Sunday 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Robin - Colyford Common Dec '08 (c) Steve Waite

The Axe Estuary Ringing Group would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Colyford Common and Stafford Marsh - 15/12/11

Today saw the Group's annual festive feast! The last ringing session of the year always includes the bonus of lots of food and drink! This year, due to the weather there was a lot less ringing though, with mist netting only possible during the gaps between the showers. All ringing operations centered around the Field Studies Base, and the Abberton traps on Colyford Common were also used.

Weather; Heavy showers with some dry interludes, 100% cloud cover and a moderate south west wind.

The weather really did interrupt the ringing today. Just half an hour after the nets had been set, they were felled due to a rain shower. So although this was inconvenient for the ringing - it didn't matter as much as usual because there was plenty of food to eat!!

A game was even set up in the classroom by Adrian Bayley. Identify the species by its eye...

Doug having a closer look - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

And the winners were...

Doug and Fraser with the prize, some nuts! - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Back to the ringing, and only 13 birds of 6 species were processed;

2 Mallard
1 Moorhen
2 Blackbird
1 Robin (retrap)
6 Greenfinch
1 Goldfinch

Male Mallard about to be weighed - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

'The boss' keeping his hands in - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Monday 12 December 2011

Cannon Netting on Seaton Marshes - 11/12/11

Today saw the first cannon netting session of the winter. The first one of the season was due to take place a few weeks before, but due to a lack of duck and water (!) it was called off.

As ever the net was set the previous afternoon by a small team lead by the group leader.

Cannon net set - Seaton Marshes Dec'11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Weather: it remained dry, despite showers before and after the ringing session, 100% cloud cover, light to moderate south west wind, visibility good.

A remarkable 28 people turned up for this ringing session, as usual this total included a good mix of experienced A ringers, C ringers, trainees and helpers.

The team (minus two) - Stafford Marsh Dec'11 (c) Mike Tyler

After a briefing at 7am, the firing team (including qualified cannon netter and group leader Mike Tyler) made their way to the hide, whilst everyone else remained on standby for extraction out of sight.

From the hide, in the early morning gloom it was obvious there were a good number of wildfowl on the lagoon - although this did include about 60 Canada Geese! A small number of Canada Geese were already in the catching area, but with the rest of the flock making a bee line to join them, when all was safe to do so, the net was fired. The time was 07:30.

By 07:40 all birds had been safely extracted from the net thanks to the efforts of the qualified extractors, and experienced helpers.

Canada Geese - Seaton Marshes Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Considering the rather mild weather, and limited number of duck in the valley, the catch was respectable, with 63 birds of 5 species processed;

3 Mute Swan (2 retraps)
13 Canada Goose (1 retrap)
11 Shelduck (5 retraps)
22 Wigeon (2 retraps)
14 Mallard (1 retrap)

The Mute Swans were quickly processed and realeased on site. The decision was then taken to transport the rest of the birds to the new classroom on Stafford Marsh, as there was a very real threat of rain.

It takes two to ring a Mute Swan! - Seaton Marshes Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Once everything and everyone had arrived safely at Stafford Marsh, the group was split in to three teams.

Team Shelduck - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Out of the six unringed Shelduck, five were this year's young (aged 3) - but I wonder if they were born locally or have migrated in from elsewhere?

'Captain Cango' (aka Terry) keeps an eye on Team Canada Goose - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Team 'everything else' had the Mallards and Wigeon.

Wigeon 4M left and 3M right; wing and tail shots - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

The two retrap Wigeon were both ringed at Seaton Marshes. One of them was a 6F ringed by Luke Phillips on 8th January this year, but the other was ringed as a 4F by Peter Robinson on 29th November 2008. This just shows that wintering birds are often site faithful.

After all the birds had been safely processed and released, the team returned to Seaton Marshes to pack away the net.

Packing up - Seaton Marshes Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Friday 2 December 2011

Colyford Common and Stafford Marsh - 1/12/12

This mist netting session was another one that was meant to be taking place in the Crop Field at the north end of Colyford Common. But due to the apparant lack of birds currently feeding in and around the field, the group operated around the Field Studies Base on Stafford Marsh, and at the southern end of Colyford Common.

The Classroom and Field Studies Base - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Peter Bennett

Weather: Dry, a slight 'bite' in the air, but still relatively mild for the time of year, overcast with 85% cloud cover, no wind, good visibility.

Despite the conditons of the previous day (strong winds and rain), it proved an absolute ideal day for mist netting. When the sun is shining, mist nets stand out to both the human and birds eyes, so the cloud cover meant this wasn't an issue. Also the lack of wind ensured the mist nets remained still. When nets move in the wind, birds can see the momevent and this usually means for a lesser catch.

As well as mist netting, the Abberton Traps were also set on Colyford Common.

Abberton Traps - Colyford Common Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

It was a very productive day of ringing, with a total of 68 birds of 14 species processed;

4 Moorhen
11 Blackbird (2 retraps)

1 Redwing

1 Song Thrush

3 Robin (1 retrap)

3 Dunnock (all retraps)

4 Wren (2 retraps)

1 Great Tit (retrap)
12 Blue Tit (8 retraps)

8 Long-tailed Tit (5 retraps)

2 Chaffinch

11 Greenfinch

5 Goldfinch (2 retraps)
2 Bullfinch (1 retrap)

So, the Abberton Traps did the trick with the Moorhens - which made a nice addition to the day's species list.

Extracting a Moorhen - Colyford Common Dec '11 (c) Peter Bennett

Processing Moorhens - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

3 Moorhen (aged by leg and bill colour, and body feather colouring) - Stafford Marsh Dec'11 (c) Adrian Bayley

There had obviously been something of a fall or arrival of thrushes with the numbers caught. The highlight was without doubt the Redwing - only the fourth ever to be trapped and ringed by the group.

Ageing the Redwing - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Peter Bennett

Redwing - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Two 3M Blackbird (presumably migrants?) - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

Ageing the Song Thrush - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Peter Bennett

This session was attended by two of the group's most experienced A ringers...

How to tie up a guy correctly by Mike - Colyford Common Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley

But there was no doubting who was the session's designated 'A Ringer In Charge'...

Is this what they call 'overseeing?' - Stafford Marsh Dec '11 (c) Adrian Bayley