Monday 30 December 2013

End of year activities

The weather permitted two sessions during December, the first on 17th, with a night-time catch of waders. Normally small catches are made and this evening was not different, catching three Curlew, five Oystercatchers and one Bar-tailed Godwit. The latter was a bonus and a first for the Group. Small numbers of this Godwit are recorded on the Estuary.

Hoping our last cannon-net catch yesterday would be good, but alas only one Moorhen and two Shelduck were caught. Although 90+ duck were on the lagoon the ice close to the catching area appeared to make the duck suspicious something was wrong. The few birds did not spoil the public demonstration of bird ringing. Members of the public, especially the children were very attentive.

Eye comparison of three Oystercatchers showing in the foreground the brown eye of a juvenile (Copyright Fraser Rush)

The bonus wader - Bar-tailed Godwit (Copyright Fraser Rush)

Comparing two juvenile Shelduck to ascertain which are male and female (Copyright Adrian Bayley)

Neil showing attentive children and adults the finer points of a Moorhen plumage (Copyright Adrian Bayley)

Sunday 8 December 2013

Ducks scared of Christmas

With 20 volunteers from all adjoining counties to Devon assembled at daybreak with the view of having a reasonable catch of duck. Alas up to 60 Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard and a few Black-tailed Godwits chose to linger away from our net. Were they afraid of being caught may have exposed them to becoming a festive dinner! Anyway they got the better of us. The team were very good spirited even after waiting patiently for three hours without success. It turned into a friendly social get together.

Carefully storing the cannon-net which stayed dry for a change (Photo Adrian Bayley)

Are you sure that Heron was carrying a fish that big! (Photo Adrian Bayley)

Monday 18 November 2013

Long Weekend

Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday 8th - 12th November was a very busy time for the Group, especially as our first cannon-net catch of the winter took place. Friday evening was our wader night, although not that successful did result in three birds, a Common and a Jack Snipe and one Curlew. The Sunday morning catch included, Black-tailed Godwits and Wigeon followed on the Tuesday with many passarines, a Sparrowhawk and a Kingfisher. Over the whole period 72 birds were caught and processed.
What a pair:Jack Snipe and Common Snipe (Photo Mike Tyler)

A hive of activity processing the cannon-net catch (Photo Adrian Bayley)

Come on Catharine it will not bite! (Photo Adrian Bayley)

Peter giving this bird a though check (Photo Adrian Bayley)

A lovely Grey Wagtail (Photo Adrian Bayley)

Monday 14 October 2013

Nice surprises

Today at a public demonstration few birds were caught but two nice surprises for those who waited until later in the morning. After the usual local species a Kestrel and Kingfisher were caught which completed the morning's nice close-ups.

Adult male Kestrel (Photo Richard Austin)

That's an unusual fish! (Photo Richard Austin)

Erecting mist nets at dawn (Photo Richard Austin)

Friday 11 October 2013

Dark evening wader catch

Our first after dark wader catch this year was a reasonable success with nine birds. One Black-tailed Godwit and eight Curlew.

Setting the nets in sticky gooey mud! (Photograph Adrian Bayley)

Careful extraction of a Black-tailed Godwit with carrying box at the ready
(Photograph Adrian Bayley)

Note the longer bill of the female Curlew (Photograph Mike Tyler)

Thursday 3 October 2013

More nice catches

An early morning session yesterday, before the rains came resulted in a few birds caught, including the two interesting species for the Axe Estuary Wetlands photographed below.

Lesser Whitethroat (Copyright Adrian Bayley)

Juvenile male Sparrowhawk (Copyright Adrian Bayley)

Saturday 28 September 2013

Bittern restricts bird ringers

The arrival of a Bittern yesterday , a local rarity, curtailed the plan of the Group to erect nets in a reed bed opposite where the Bittern could be seen on the other side of the River Axe. To ensure good relations with birdwatchers and the public, as well as safeguarding the reputation of the Group, the proposed netting of Swallows at roost was cancelled should our actions disturb the Bittern. 

Not all was lost, nets were erected elsewhere and during darkness the Group were given a nice surprise when a Jack Snipe was caught. The second for the Group, the last caught in October 2008. Despite the disappointment of not being able to net Swallows the extra effort was certainly worthwhile.

The sheer elegance of the Jack Snipe

Lovely plumage markings

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Nice surprise!

Our general mist netting session on Saturday 7th September produced a nice surprise for the Group. Among the warblers and other species caught a Common Snipe was netted, the first wader for the Group this autumn. Nice photograph below.

Copyright Kate Cheetham

Saturday 17 August 2013

Active weekends

The last two weekends have been active periods for the Group starting on Fridays and covering the Saturdays and one Sunday. The latter session was at the East Devon District Council's Wet and Wild Weekend, a public event at which various wildlife events took place. Despite bad weather during the last weekend 18 birds were caught and processed. The total for both weekends came to 98 captures. 

The total comprised of good numbers of migrants, including Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats, even a Kingfisher. Certainly species one would expect to catch at a wetland site at this time of the year. The Group's next long weekend will start on 6th September. It is also planning some wader catches during September and October. Watch this space for the results of those hopeful catches.

A few photos of recent activities.

A relaxed juvenile Whitethroat (photo Mike Tyler)
A hive of activity! (Photo Adrian Bailey)

What is this? A family outing! (Photo Adrian Bayley)

Another poser (Photo Adrian Bayley)

Thursday 13 June 2013

2013 Ringing Programme Uploaded

For details of all the planned ringing activity by the Axe Estuary Ringing Group for the rest of 2013 see HERE or click on the '2013 Programme' tab above this post. As always, our outings are subject to weather conditions!

Monday 3 June 2013

BTO South West Ringers' Conference

Any ringers who may be following our activities please note in your diaries Saturday, 5th April 2014 when the Group will be hosting the BTO South West Ringers' Conference. It will take place in Seaton Town Hall, Devon and delegates will be offered the opportunity for a guided visit to the Axe Estuary Wetlands.

Please watch this space for further details

Good catch and first pulli

A good catch this morning of 37 birds, including the Group's first nestlings of the year. The nest in a box attached to the side of the classroom was being watched via a video link to the Field Studies Base. Despite concerns in the early days that the pair kept disappearing for several hours are now raising six healthy Blue Tit nestlings.

The tally for today's catch was:

Great Tit 6; Robin 2; Greenfinch 3; Long-tailed Tit 9; Dunnock 2; Wren 2; Blue Tit 7; Blackbird 4; Song Thrush 1; and Chaffinch 1.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Good catch near Crop Field again!

Despite the jaunt across rough ground to carry poles, nets, etc the reed bed and adjoining hedgerows close to the Crop Field rarely let down those who have the energy and enthusiasm to catch some interesting birds. Yesterday, 21st May was no exception, with 25 of the total birds caught during the morning were close to the Crop Field. An area rarely visited by the public thereby being relatively quiet.

The morning's total catch was 35 birds as follows: Song Thrush 1; Reed Warbler 10; Blue Tit 1; Dunnock 3; House Sparrow 3; Greenfinch 3; Blackbird 8; Great tit 1; Swallow 1; Wren 2; Reed Bunting 1; and Robin 1.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Weekend session

Our first two day session for the year started on the afternoon of Friday 10th May, with the erection of nets and finished on Saturday evening after processing thirty birds. Not so many as one would have liked, but despite the showers and windy conditions a reasonable number nevertheless. The tally was: Song Thrush 1; Blue Tit 2; Greenfinch 5; Reed Warbler 3; Chaffinch 1; Sedge Warbler 1; Wren 2; Dunnock 3; Goldfinch 2; Blackbird 7; Great Tit 2; and Reed Bunting 1.

Of the total of Blackbirds four were pulli in a nest close to the Reserves, but still in the area of the Group's operations. A nice surprise was the single Sedge Warbler which was a control ringed in Spain bearing a ring engraved Arazadi San Sebastien.

The Saturday morning started with people on a dawn chorus, led by Steve Waite, visited the Field Studies base at the end of their walk. Even during the day other members of the public were given the opportunity to watch birds being ringed. It was not just adults that were fascinated by seeing birds in the hand, but also were the children.

These two children are certainly enjoying the opportunity to release a Reed Bunting

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Has spring arrived!

With a cold March and still chilly easterly winds during the first few days of April, one would be forgiven thinking that spring had arrived. Well, the Chiffchaffs thought so, with good numbers reported along the south coast. The Group experienced this influx at its first spring mist-netting session. Eight were caught,including a control, details of ringing to be ascertained. One Chiffchaff had obviously travelled through some warm exotic locations with pollen clearly seen on its lower head around the bill. (see photograph). Although only 18 birds were caught it was good start and the small team were well satisfied.

I know, I did put my head in a trumpet flower! (photo Doug Rudge)

Comparison of the travellers (photo Doug Rudge)

Adrian, Barry, Neil & Peter admire their catches (photo Doug Rudge)

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Last Duck catch of the Winter

Another winter has passed and the Group have enjoyed several sessions cannon-netting duck. Not just Shelduck our target species which we also colour-ring, but also Teal, Mallard and Wigeon. Moorhens, Black-tailed Godwits and Mute Swans were also caught as a side catch. So we hang-up our cannon-nets until November. At our last catch on Saturday 23rd March we caught 16 Shelduck. Fewer than at previous sessions, but they were probably on the move to their breeding sites.

The team at the last duck catch

Sunday 17 March 2013

Showing the Flag

The Group, as in previous years, took advantage of manning a display stand at Seaton Town Hall on 16th March, and gained support from many members of the public. The event was arranged by the Seaton Lions for charities in the community to take part.

Peter Bennett explaining our work to members of the public


Sunday 3 March 2013

23rd February to 1st March

The start of seven busy and very interesting days for the Group. On the 23rd we took part in the Winter Bird Festival organised by the Countryside Unit of East Devon District Council. Members of the public were fascinated seeing Shelduck, Mallard, Wigeon and Mute Swans being ringed. Our leader explained to a group of about 30 members of the Devon Wildlife Trust the reasons why we were ringing birds and placing colour rings on Shelduck. On 27th three days of filming with the BBC Countryfile Unit began culminating with an early catch of 38 Shelduck on 1st March. Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury joined us together with two excited camera teams filming the various aspects of ringing following a catch using cannon-nets. Later to release the last bird Matt Baker appeared to do the honours.

Julia and Matt with members of the catching team

Wednesday 13 February 2013

AERG Back soon

Please note this blog will be back soon with updates on the activities of the Axe Estuary Ringing Group.

In the meantime, here's a photo of the team from the last cannon-netting session on 09.02.13.
A happy team