Bird Ringing

Ogbourne 18/01/2016

We started the session by surrounding a hedge of Blackthorn, Hawthorn and other normal hedge plants, on both sides with 60ft nets. This net was to target Yellowhammers which has previously been the majority of the catch with around 40 to 50

Bedwyn Common 10/01/2016

Salisbury Plains 10/08/2015

It was a particularly early morning as we had to be at the site by 5:00 and with a journey of an hour me and my Mum had to get up at 3:30. But this early start was definitely worth it for the day of ringing that was to come. We got there right on time to meet Matt just putting up one more net. It was only going to be me, Matt and Anna so we were expecting to be very busy as Matt as ringed around 300 birds there on one occasion. We started though by ringing a stunning Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroats that Matt had collected before we got there. Both the Redstart and Grasshopper Warblers were new birds for me and so far the best birds I have processed but the best was still to come.


We then did the first net round around half an hour after sunrise. The number of birds was staggering, at least for someone who has never been to the site and has only been ringing for around 5 months. Again it was dominated by Whitethroats but also caught were; Robins, Dunnocks, Blackcaps, Sedge Warblers, Bullfinches, Chiffchaffs, Willow warblers and a few Stonechats, Whinchats, Grasshopper Warblers, Redstarts Lesser Whitethroats, Garden warblers. When we got back we started with the Sedge warblers, which had been collected first, then moved onto the really exiting Stonechats, Whinchats, Redstarts and Garden Warblers. Matt really kindly let me ring one of each along with a Grasshopper Warbler.



But by around 9:30 it had begun to die down and so Matt changed the tapes to swallow calls to entice the large swallow flock that had descended down to a small puddle. This meant that soon we were getting Juvenile Swallows and by the end of the day we had caught around 20. Along with these Matt had also changed some of the tapes to Tree Pipit song and we were lucky enough to get o tree Pipit and 2 Meadow Pipits. However the numbers were still decreasing but we were still getting several Lesser Whitethroats and Garden Warblers, but still mostly Whitethroats and one or two Whinchats, Stonechats and Redstarts. By the end of the day we had processed 10 Lesser Whitethroats, around 7 Garden Warblers, around 5 Redstarts and around 5 Whinchats and Stonechats.

Lesser Whitethroat

However the best by far came on the last net round caught near the small puddle surounded by more Swallow juveniles. A CORN BUNTING!!! This, by far one of the hardest birds to catch due to it amazing eyesight is of extreme conservation concern and Matt has found that during September they all seem to disappear. This could be as a result of a veru heavy moult forcing them to just walk along the ground.

Corn Bunting

Swindon Sewage Works CES 01/08/2015

Finally the weather looked to be good for CES meaning it would be a busy day ringing. This meant we had MP, SW, AF, AP and me. Because of the large number of ringers my Mum had a lot of work to keep up with the constant stream of information. And although the first few net rounds were quiet  the third round lived up to its expectations with net 6 bringing in a massive amount of juvenile Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Reed warbler and very tangled wrens. This meant we didn't have a huge amount of time to look into the moult of the birds but soon, with Matt's help, we got through the sudden rush and things began to die down and we were catching 3J Bullfinches, Dunnocks and a few Robins. However the highlight of the day came in the form of a Kingfisher (again) and a GREEN SANDPIPER!!!


Matt doesn't often ring Kingfisger, only around 4 a year and at this site. At for Matt though the last several years have been reasonably good for ringing them. Whereas the Green Sandpiper is a lot harder to catch and thanks to it immensely strong wings slightly harder to handle.

Swindon Sewage Works CES 6 30/06/2015

Yet again the weather was all over the place but we still tried. In the early morning it looked like we were going to be ok with no rain or heavy wind. The session was mostly dominated with juvenile warblers meaning I could get to learn about the difference between the adult 4 and juvenile 3J. The juveniles were mostly Whitethroats and Blackcaps both of which were reasonably simple with the juveniles having fresher less worn wing feathers and in the Blackcaps more pointed tail feathers. But by far the highlight was an adult Kingfisher, which had to have an SO ring on it. We also got a large flock of Great tits, Blue tits and Long-tailed tits, which Matt says he has seen less of in recent years. 


With my Mum not there though it gave me chance to try out scribing which I found a bit hectic as we got into the main flow of birds. I admit I got a few mistakes with the ageing codes but was able to correct them later. After my scribing we went out to a net round when it started to lightly rain so we moved base into the hut. After a while Matt decided to make it  the last net round before we closed the nets due to the rain.

Reed Warbler

Kingfisher 1, Treecreeper 3, Goldcrest 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2 (2), Whitethroat 14 (2), Blackcap 15 (2), Chiffchaff 19, Reed Warbler 3 (9), Sedge Warbler 4 (5), Dunnock 9 (7), Robin 2 (4), Blackbird 0 (2), Song Thrush 0 (1), Wren 2, Greenfinch 4 (1), Goldfinch 1, Great Tit 19, Blue Tit 18, Long Tailed Tit 8

Swindon Sewage Works 17/05/2015

With the poor Spring weather this session was only just able to go ahead and luckily the wind held off for enough time and we got a good amount of birds including a Cetti's Warbler and two Reed Warblers. The wind though still meant that there was a slow stream of birds meaning we had time to look into ageing and moults. The day was mostly dominated by Reed Warblers which is an important indicator of how the reed beds are doing, which are the main management work. We also had some good retraps including a Lesser Whitethroat from last year, a 6 year old Dunnock and a Whitethroat Matt ringed on 21st August 2012 at their site on the Salisbury Plains (30km south)

Along with the brilliant retraps there was a male adult Greenfinch, a rare bird to catch at the CES site. Finally there was a pair or Linnets, one of which a brilliant male with bright red breast and head markings.

Lesser Whitethroat 1 (1), Reed Warbler 11 (5), Sedge Warbler 3 (5), Whitethroat 2 (1), Blackcap 3 (5), Chiffchaff 0 (1), Cetti's Warbler, 0 (1), Goldfinch 5, Linnet 2, Bullfinch 3 (1), Greenfinch 1, Robin 3, Blackbird 2 (4), Song Thrush 4 (2), Great tit 1 (1), Blue tit 0 (2), Wren 0 (5), Dunnock 0 (9), Reed Bunting 0 (2)

Swindon Sewage Works CES 1 10/05/2015

As it was the first time ringing at this site I didn't know what to expect. This CES site though is only monitored during the breeding season and this was one of the first ringing sessions this year. After a slightly later start than usual we arrived at the sewage works. The day started quietly with only a few Great tits, Blackbirds and Reed warblers, but soon we started to get a bit more busy with a first for me, a Lesser whitethroat along with Sedge warblers and a lot of Reed warblers.

Matt got very exited when he found this in the net, his favourite summer breeding warblers

Reed Warbler 5(8), Sedge Warbler 5 (2), Blackcap 4 (3), Whitethroat 4, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 2, Cetti's Warbler 0 (1), Goldfinch 3, Bullfinch 2, Linnet 1, Great tit 1 (2), Long-tailed Tit 0 (4), Blackbird 4 (2), Song Thrush 4, Dunnock 1 (3), Wren 1 (2), Robin 0 (1)

Blunsdon, Hannington 19/04/2015

After another early start me and my Mum headed to Blunsdon, Hannington, for my third ringing session. We started by putting up the nets and Matt showed me how to set up the nets and poles. As soon as they were up we were catching, Blackcaps, Finches, and Yellowhammers. Having processed some and gone through how to age and sex them along with relevant code, we caught some amazing birds and some first for me. TREE SPARROWS!!! 

Matt was also very exited as these are his most favourite birds. I was lucky enough to process the re-catch, but sadly I let go of the un-ringed bird before getting a ring on it Oops!!! (This was three in a row as I had let go of the the most exiting birds in the previous sessions, including a Marsh tit in good conditions!!!) The Blackcaps were a constant flow and it was incredible to get up close and find out how to age them. However in August it will be less amazing as there will apparently be over ten times as many. We soon decided to change the Blackcap recording to a Cuckoo to try and entice a nearby Male that had been singing for quite a while into the area before they start breeding and we can no longer disturb them. However, we predictably had no luck with the Cuckoo, but did get three or four Bullfinches, one of which (a bright red male) I just about managed to extract (or help get out). We ended though with reasonably noisy Song thrush, which was by far the trickiest to get a wing measurement, and a Stock dove that Matt had to finish ringing.

Savernake Forest 11/4/15

Having been out once I was a bit more confident on how to do everything from getting the bird out of the net to letting it go. We started by getting all the kit over the deer fence then cutting down some of the young trees to give room for the nets. We started with some of the less violent birds; Chaffinches, Robins, Dunnocks. However after a while we started getting some of the more challenging birds such as Nuthatches, Wrens, Goldcrests and a Great spotted woodpecker.

It was real treat to be able to hold one of my most favourite birds, the Nuthatch, and get closer than ever to it.I also found out some new things about it, such as how to sex it. The male has darker undertail coverts and flanks but as we saw later, during the breeding season the female may have mud round its beak as she will place mud round the nest hole to make it a perfect fit for her. Later on we also caught two more little beauties, a Chiffchaff and a Willow warbler. I may not have held it but it was still good to see it and find out the close up differences between them. One has a more rounded and larger wing while the other has a slightly straighter and smaller wing. After these I went out to help collect the next birds. Matt kindly let me, a complete novice, get one of the birds out of the net. It was probably the trickiest bit of all.
The final bird for me was a brilliant little Marsh tit. Sadly I accidentally let it fly away whilst I was weighing it. It rather annoyingly flew to the top of a near by tree and started singing at the top of its voice, which I took as laughing. With it was a pair of long-tailed tits another one of my favourite birds. It was quite sweat that we had to let them go together otherwise one would just wait for the other.

Nuthatch 2, Goldcrest 1 (1), Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 2, Chaffinch 6, Wren 1 (1), Robin 3 (1), Dunnock 4 (4), Blackbird 1 (1), Song Thrush 1, Marsh Tit 0 (1), Long Tailed Tit 2, Coal Tit 2 (2), Blue Tit 6 (4), Great Tit 2 (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker

Axford 4/4/15

Recently I have started going ringing with an A permit (trainer) Matt Prior. Thanks to Biff who put me in contact with him. He and Paul, another ringer, set up around four nets and soon we were catching Reed buntings, Yellowhammers and a lot more. Matt started by going through the basics with me; how to hold them, ring them, take wing measurements, weigh them... The first bird to be caught and extracted was a Yellowhammer, which ended up being the first bird I have rung. It was a  bit difficult to measure the wing but hopefully I will get better at it, and Matt said it was the thing most people struggled on to begin with. They also both showed me how to work out the ageand sex of the birds

Reed Bunting 4 (5), Yellowhammer 6 (1), Chaffinch 5 (4), Goldfinch 6, Brambling 1, Greenfinch 1, Robin 1 (2), Dunnock 2 (2), Great Tit 5 (8), Blue Tit 2 (9), Wren 1, Blackbird 1, Marsh Tit 0 (2)