Monday 21 December 2015

The last catch of 2015

Despite the rain stopping activities mid morning we were able to catch 35 birds of 12 species. These were: Chaffinch 3; Chiffchaff 1; Robin 1; Great Tit; Goldfinch 3; Long-tailed Tit 10; Dunnock 3; Blackbird 1; Wren 1; Goldcrest 4; and Song Thrush 1.

The year has been very good for the Group with higher numbers than usual with new species as well. Who knows perhaps next year could be as good or even better.

Many thanks and very happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year to all our supporters and followers of the Group's activities. 


Sunday 6 December 2015

First winter duck catch

The ups and downs of duck catches! Yesterday there were 70 duck in a catching area of the Seaton Marshes, but today only 25. Did they know what was in store for them? Nevertheless, 19 were caught of the those present so one could say in the circumstances it was a good catch . These included 11 Shelduck, one Wigeon, six Mallard and a surprise female Shoveler. Although Shoveler frequent the Marshes in small numbers it is unusual to catch these in cannon nets as they normally stay well out on the lagoons. Anyway, members of the Group were not complaining.

Please note that the session for 20th December is cancelled.

The impressive bill of the Shoveler (c) Allan Reese

A side on view (c) Mike Tyler

Saturday 28 November 2015

Startling finish to autumn

The Group completed its autumn sessions last Monday, with a full day and evening session resulting in a bumper catch. Of the 124 birds caught and processed another new bird was added to the Group's species list. A lovely first winter Lesser Redpoll.

Other interesting catches, included 28 Long-tailed Tits, nine each of Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Cetti's Warbler and 12 Reed Buntings at roost.

First winter Lesser Redpoll (copyright Miriam Guard)

The same Lesser Redpoll (Copyright Ian Stanbridge) 

Friday 6 November 2015


Due to inclement weather conditions forecast for the session on Saturday 7th November regrettably it has been cancelled.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Date Cancellation

Please note that the Cannon Netting session programmed for 15th November has been cancelled due to lack of ducks and site clearance needed. Expect to be back into programme in December.

Monday 19 October 2015

Fewer migrants, but a good catch

The Group were up early this morning, prior to daybreak erecting mist nets at Seaton Marshes. Apart from seven Chiffchaffs other migrants had deserted us and no doubt well on their way to winter quarters. The catch which totalled 75 birds did include surprisingly 16 Long-tailed Tits, 10 Goldcrests and 13 Blue Tits. Two new Cetti's Warblers were caught together with a Treecreeper and a Meadow Pipit. Not bad for a morning's work.

A Chiffchaff reluctant to migrate! (c) Mike Tyler

Saturday 17 October 2015

First autumn wader catch

Last evening, just prior to high tide of the River Axe, the Group caught 12 waders on Colyford Marsh. The site with its muddy low water level lagoon has shown to be a good site for roosting waders. The catch took effect after dark. Seven Curlew, including a bird the Group ringed at the same site in October 1999, still going strong; other birds were a Lapwing, two Redshank, a Teal and a Green Sandpiper.

Green Sandpiper

The white rump of the Green Sandpiper
Measuring the bill of the Curlew

(All photographs copyright Mike Tyler)

Monday 28 September 2015

Another new species

Yesterday morning the Group had another good ringing session processing 74 birds of 21 species, including a Siskin a new species for the Group whilst working on the Wetlands. This year has been very successful with in excess of 1000 birds ringed and many more processed.

Our new species - Siskin  (c) Tom Gale

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Bumper weekend!

The Group have been busy over the last ten days and have captured 241 birds, with 199 over the weekend of 5th - 6th September. These were sessions to catch one of the last movements of migrants that were resting up and feeding on the Axe Wetlands. There were 47 Chiffchaffs, 6 Willow Warblers, 13 Blackcaps, 12 Reed Warblers, 15 Sedge Warblers, 1 Whitethroat and 1 House Martin. The remainder included, Kingfisher, Cetti's Warbler, Treecreeper, 16 Goldfinches and 28 Greenfinches, plus several other resident species, all in all a very good period.


Showing the stiff tail feathers of a Treecreeper

First year Whitethroat

All photographs (c) Mike Tyler

Friday 28 August 2015

Another new species for the Group!

With a break in the wet weather yesterday morning  gave the Group an opportunity to attempt to catch a few migrants that were travelling through the Wetlands. Not only did we catch 83 birds of 17 species, but a new catch was made of a Spotted Flycatcher. This was a nice surprise although arguably not necessarily unusual for the site during migration. The tally for the morning was:

Dunnock 8; Lesser Whitethroat 1; Chiffchaff 7; Blue Tit 12; Robin 5; Cetti’s Warbler 1; Long-tailed Tit 1; Blackcap 12; Great Tit 9; Reed Warbler 9; Willow Warbler 4; Goldcrest 2; Sedge Warbler 6;
Kingfisher 3; Spotted Flycatcher 1; Coal Tit 1; Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.

So another very good session, enjoyed by all who attended.

Juvenile Lesser Whitethroat

Adult male Kingfisher

Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher

Photographs by Mike Tyler

Monday 17 August 2015

Another two day event

Last weekend, with ideal weather for bird ringing, the Group had an exceptional two days in the field. On Saturday 61 birds of 13 species were caught, including many juveniles and migrants. The latter comprised of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Sedge and Reed Warblers. 

On Sunday a change of venue when we chose the area of Colyford Common we worked at the previous session. Again we were not disappointed and given the opportunity to catch 98 birds of 19 species, but this was not the end of the story. We were so surprised to catch two new species for the Group. These were a Whinchat and a Garden Warbler, both juveniles (see photos), a bonus which concluded a very successful ringing weekend.

Juvenile Whinchat

Juvenile Garden Warbler

Juvenile and adult male Goldfinch

Juvenile Willow Warbler

Juvenile Sedge Warbler
(All photos by Mike Tyler)

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Different site proves a success!

To ensure the whole of the Group's monitoring areas are covered today's efforts were concentrated on the crop field and adjacent reed bed on Colyford Common. These areas are infrequently covered, but today an attempt was made and success prevailed.

Despite the likelihood of windy conditions bringing the session to an early conclusion the Group caught 52 birds of 15 species and only two retraps. The birds were:

Sedge Warbler 3; Reed Warbler 22; Dunnock 2; Whitethroat 2; Goldfinch 5; Great Tit 8; Blue Tit 1; Wren 2; Chiffchaff 1; House Sparrow 1; Greenfinch 1; Robin 1 (retrap); Blackbird 1 (retrap); Blackcap 1 and a Kingfisher. The latter was a surprise catch as it was at a site not expected for this species. The two Whitethroats were juveniles as were most of those caught. A worthwhile monitoring session of an area infrequently used.

Juvenile Whitethroat
Juvenile Kingfisher
(Photos Mike Tyler)

Wednesday 22 July 2015

And even more birds!

Another splendid catch today with 83 birds. These were:

Great Tit 11(2); Reed Bunting 2; Blackbird 1; Goldfinch 12; Blue Tit 14(5); Reed Warbler 11(2); Chaffinch 6; Kingfisher 2(1); Meadow Pipit 1; Chiffchaff 7; Blackcap 2; Cetti's Warbler 1; Greenfinch 7; Dunnock 1; Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Sedge Warbler 1; Treecreeper 1; Robin (1); Coal Tit 1.

An excellent achievement for all those present.

Friday 10 July 2015

Another record!

The last session was very fruitful with over 90 birds caught and processed, but yet today proved even better. The Group have exceeded the 100 total mark with 107 birds of 17 species.  Only 21 were retraps from previous sessions; species trapped included:

Kingfisher 1; Blackbird 7; Blue Tit 15; Great Tit 17; Sedge Warbler 8; Reed Warbler 5; Greenfinch 20; Cetti's warbler 3; Long-tailed Tit 1; Chiffchaff 7; Robin 8; Wren 1; Blackcap 2; Goldfinch 6; Chaffinch 4; Treecreeper 1 Wood Pigeon 1.

The three Cetti's Warblers were juveniles, which is assumed bred on the Wetlands. Certainly a female with a brood patch had been caught earlier. This is good news as there have been no reports of breeding for a few years.

Hopefully the rest of the summer and autumn will continue with good and varied catches.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Yet another bumper catch!

The previous mist netting session was considered to be a very good catch and to exceed 86 birds in a morning session was not in anyone's thoughts, but and breaking this year's record was achieved yesterday with 92 birds caught and processed.  Many young Goldfinches and Greenfinches as well as Blackcaps. Chiffchaffs and Reed Warblers were in reasonable numbers and the old favourite Kingfisher was also in the totals. Always a good crowd puller!

The total of 16 species comprised as follows:

Reed Warbler 8; Robin 5; Wren 2; Greenfinch 8; Blue Tit 11; Blackcap 6; Great Tit 9; Chiffchaff 10; Blackbird 7; Dunnock 3; Kingfisher 1; Goldfinch 13; Long-tailed Tit 2; Chaffinch 5; Bullfinch 1; and Coal Tit 1.

Juvenile Blackcap (Photo Mike Tyler)

The crowd puller juvenile Kingfisher (Photo Mike Tyler)

Sunday 21 June 2015

Summer bumper catch

Yesterday the Group held one of its regular mist netting sessions hoping catch any juvenile birds making their way over the marshes. The morning started very well with many birds in the nets, but this trend went on until after midday to the surprise and enjoyment of ringers present. The tally was a surprising 86 birds of 16 species, with only nine retraps, one of those a Reed Warbler from several years ago.

The species caught were: Robin 4; Dunnock 7; Goldfinch 6; Blue Tit 9; Great Tit 9; Kingfisher 3; Chaffinch 8; Chiffchaff 11; Cetti's Warbler 2; Blackbird 9; Reed Warbler 3; Blackcap 6; Wren 1; Goldcrest 1; Long-tailed Tit 6 and a surprise Treecreeper.

Friday 29 May 2015

Recent catch and pulli update

The latest Group session took place yesterday and 35 birds were caught. It was decided to try a site at Colyford Common, not regularly used. This proved ideal and the following were caught:

Reed Warbler 8; Dunnock 2; Wren 3; House Sparrow 11; Whitethroat 1; Blue Tit 3; Robin 2; Long-tailed Tit 2; Blackbird 1; Greenfinch 1; and Blackcap 1, a nice selection.

So far this year 18 Great Tit pulli have been ringed, and 32 Blue Tits. Five Kestrel pulli also ringed.

Hopefully our next session on 8th June will be equally as good.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

A busy weekend

Last Saturday and Sunday mornings the Group carried out ringing in the area of Colyford Common and caught 52 birds of various species. On the Saturday a faithful Reed Warbler returned to its breeding area, not an uncommon event for migrants ringed on the site.

The catch included: Robin 8; Long-tailed Tit 4; Song Thrush 1; Blue Tit 6; Reed Warbler 9; Wren 2; Chiffchaff 1; Greenfinch 7; Bullfinch 1; Blackcap 1; Dunnock 1; Great Tit 2; Goldfinch 4; Chaffinch 1; and Blackbird 4.

A few juveniles were caught, including Greenfinches and Robins.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Hooray ringing will be taking place!

Please note that the ringing session programmed for Sunday 17th May will take place as a team will now be available.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Migrants on the move

The warmer and calmer weather of recent days had certainly encouraged many migrants to arrive along the coast of East Devon, particularly to the Axe Estuary Wetlands. Fortuitously the Group it had a session planned for the morning and members were not disappointed. Members of the public with their families enjoyed the opportunity to see birds close up.

A fine sample of species were caught amounting to 18 within a total of 41 birds. The highlights included a female Stonechat and a male Redstart, the latter a first for the Group. First Willow Warblers for us this year and three Cetti's Warblers, two females we ringed before and a new male which had been singing all morning in the reeds, close to where we were working. Who knows, will we this year have our first confirmed nesting pair. Let's hope so.

The total processed included:

Robin 4; Blackbird 2; Dunnock 3; Chaffinch 3; Wren 1; Great Tit 2; Great Spotted Woodpecker 2; Song Thrush 1; Bullfinch 1; Willow Warbler 3; Greenfinch 6; Cetti's Warbler 3; Stonechat 1; Blackcap 1; Redstart 1; Chiffchaff 3; Goldfinch 1; and Blue Tit 1.

We look forward to more exciting sessions in the near future.

The female Stonechat

A fine looking male Blackcap

The celebrity of the day a male Redstart

Not to be out done a bright coloured Greenfinch in breeding plumage

The male Cetti's Warbler
                                                      All photographs copyright Mike Tyler

Saturday 21 March 2015

Last duck catch of the winter

Today marked the first day of spring, but also the last cannon net duck catch for the Group until next winter. With only a small team and few birds the session was nearly cancelled. Although there were 20 Shelduck appearing in pairs on Seaton Marshes lagoon, we were able to catch half. One Mallard was also caught, but the surprise was a Little Egret, the second for the Group. 

Little Egret - Photo Mike Tyler

The team - photo Mike Tyler

Sunday 1 March 2015

Latest duck catch

The Group yesterday took a catch later in the day as an experiment to try and net more birds, as we had noticed that higher numbers descended onto the catching area later in the day. Even with fewer duck present, the test catch was considered reasonable with 13 birds caught, one being a Black-tailed Godwit just changing into summer plumage.

Depending on the weather and the number of duck present on the Axe Estuary, we will decide whether to take another catch in the middle of March.

Black-tailed Godwit showing early breeding plumage (Photo Mike Tyler)

Monday 9 February 2015

Another nice catch

Unlike last year the colder weather has drawn several duck species to the Axe Estuary enabling the Group to make some useful catches. Shelduck have been using the site throughout the winter and many returning from previous years. How do we know? Well colour ringing since 2010 has proved ideal for confirming or otherwise of the same birds returning each year. So if you see any birds carrying a yellow ring containing two letters in black, as shown below, please let us know.

The catch of the weekend, included 19 Shelduck, 26 Teal, 4 Wigeon, 17 Mallard and one Black-tailed Godwit. Some of the Teal and Mallard were caught in two Abberton Traps we baited the night before. These birds helped to bring the total to 67.

Sample colour ring on Shelduck

Pair of Wigeon

Happy team of the day
(All photos - Mike Tyler)

Monday 19 January 2015

A nice start to 2015

The weekend of 18th/19th January started the Group's new year with an attempt to catch wintering Chiffchaffs at the Borrow Pit on Seaton Marshes. Not quite as successful as hoped with only four Chiffchaffs with several others seen in the vicinity. Nevertheless 15 birds were caught, including a Water Rail in a prototype trap made by Group member Fraser Rush.

On the Sunday morning soon after daybreak a cannon net was fired over a small group of duck, which included a few waders. The catch comprised of one Teal, one Moorhen, 24 Shelduck and ten Black-tailed Godwits. The evening before two Abberton Traps were set at Colyford Common and surprisingly 12 birds were caught, which included  six Teal, two Moorhens and four Mallard. These traps helped to boost the numbers for ringing for both members and visitors. 

The Group's work on catching duck and waders over the years has drawn other ringers from as far away as Penzance, Falmouth, Bideford Portland and Weymouth. The Group feels really honoured that non-members are prepared to travel long distances so early in the  morning to meet our deadline of taking a catch.

A fine example of a female Teal (Photo Mike Tyler)