Monday 19 December 2016

Last catch of the year

Today the Group had its last session of the year combined with some festivities. There were no unusual highlights, but 10 Coldcrest and five wintering Chiffchaffs were in the total of 55 birds of 16 species.

A happy Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to our members and supporters.

Thursday 15 December 2016

First catch for Project Wigeon

      Last Sunday morning the Group attended the grasslands and pools close to the Otter Estuary, where many species of duck congregate to feed during the winter months. The Project which is being sponsored by Devon Birds is to ascertain the numbers and movements of Wigeon over a period of four winters prior to any works that may take place by the Environment Agency as part of its flood relief scheme.
     Apart from fitting a British Trust for Ornithology metal ring a lime green Darvic ring was fitted at the same time. Each colour ring is engraved with two letters. This will give an observer an opportunity to relay back to the Group where and on which date the bird was seen.
     The catch was smaller than hoped, but with several pools it cannot be easy to judge where the birds may be at a particular time. Many hours of observing the movement of the birds by ringer Peter Bennett from his advantage point of his home showed that the birds are constantly on the move whilst feeding from pool to pool. As one needs to set the cannon net the evening before to be precisely accurate can be difficult. Nevertheless, we were able to catch 27 duck of which 19 where Wigeon, seven Mallard and one Shoveler.
     Photographs of one of two Wigeon we caught show a green glossy feathering behind the eye apparently indicating geographical location in this case from North West Europe and East Asia where about 10% of the birds show this variation. The Shoveler permitted a very close view of the lamellae in its upper mandible, something useful to record whilst the bird is in the hand.

First Wigeon to be colour ringed

Male Wigeon showing the glossy green behind the eye

The Lamellae from the upper mandible of the Shoveler

Group and Team Leader debriefing the Team

(All photographs copyright Mike Tyler)

Tuesday 22 November 2016

First winter catch

Following severe storms and heavy rain the chance to catch and ring birds has been almost impossible. There was a small break today, coinciding with our programme and the session proceeded. Not bad a morning taking into account the bad weather of the last few days. Sixty four birds of 15 species were caught, including a Dusky Warbler at least according to the plumage. Other species included, Blackcap, nine Chiffchaffs, a Cetti's Warbler, Kingfisher and eleven Goldfinches.

Cetti's Warbler

Probable Dusky Warbler

Chiffchaff being released

All photographs copyright Doug Rudge

Thursday 3 November 2016

Last of the autumn wader catches

November can be a bit late to catch waders on migration, together with only a few on site last evening proved to be so. Nevertheless, we were not entirely disappointed with the only wader, that of a Jack Snipe. A very attractive adult as the photographs show.

Photo Allan Reese

Photo Allan Reese

Photo Mike Tyler

Saturday 15 October 2016

Autumn sessions

The Group have had two sessions this month with the view of catching the last of the migrant warblers and perhaps some early thrushes. Today five Song Thrushes were caught more than the usual number, so perhaps that is a good sign. Over the two sessions we processed 24 Chiffchaffs and 8 Blackcaps as well as a Cetti's Warbler one of many this year. It appears the population is increasing after a drop a few years ago. In all 108 birds were caught in two mornings.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Stormy session

This morning started clear and sunny an ideal condition for a good morning's ringing. Alas after less than storms started to brew from the east and activities soon came to an end. Seeing the conditions about to change birds were quickly extracted and nets furled. Nevertheless not all was lost in that we were able to catch 58 birds of 17 species, so not too bad.

A common Woodpigeon  given the limelight!

Cetti's Warbler one of two caught
(Photographs Mike Tyler)

Tuesday 6 September 2016

A successful start to the autumn

This last weekend has been one of the most successful of the Group with ringing taking place on Saturday to Monday at three locations. The first two were on the Seaton Wetlands in the area of the Discovery Hut and on Colyford Common. A wide habitat of reed, scrub and hedgerow produced a good variety of birds. Saturday produced the bulk of birds, 79 in total, comprising of 14 Goldfinches, six Chiffchaffs, five Sedge Warblers, one Reed Warbler, four Willow Warblers, one Grasshopper Warbler, two Swallows, one Lesser Whitethroat, six Great Tits, eight Blue Tits, 24 Greenfinches, six Wrens, and one Goldcrest. The Grasshopper Warbler being the highlight of the morning. (See photo)

There were fewer birds on the Sunday, but a respectable  36 of 14 species. The additional species were ten Reed Warblers, one Cetti's Warbler, one Kingfisher, one House Martin as well as three Blackbirds and Robins and one Coal Tit. Chiffchaffs, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Swallows, Sedge Warblers, Wrens and a Reed Bunting making up the total for the morning.

Being a diverse ringing group, on the Monday evening well into dark, a catch of roosting waders was made on Colyford Marsh. Twenty-four waders comprising of one Lapwing, one Curlew, originally ringed by the Group at the site on 9th October 2013, one Whimbrel, two Green Sandpipers, three Redshank and 16 Dunlin. The reasonable number of Dunlin gave the members present an ideal opportunity to compare adult and juvenile birds. (See photo)  The Group have arrange for two further sessions to catch waders this year.

A total of 139 birds of 26 species.

Grasshopper Warbler (Rob Skinner)

Lesser Whitethroat (Tom Gale) 

Whimbrel (Allan Reese)

Curlew (Mike Tyler)

Lapwing (Mike Tyler) 

Dunlins juvenile on the left compared with an adult (Mike Tyler)

Friday 26 August 2016

Interesting catch

The Group operated at a part of the Seaton Wetlands it rarely attends, but the weather was ideal with cloud and little wind and with information acquired earlier that many birds were migrating along the coast helped with the decision where to set nets. The site has always been a challenge, but generally fruitful in the number of birds caught. Yesterday was no exception with a total of 100 birds of 20 species caught. The star of the morning was a Tree Pipit caught cunningly with the use of a tape lure. It was known there were a few in the vicinity so we were in with a chance. The list for the morning was:

Chaffinch 1; Reed Warbler 13; Blackcap 2; Dunnock 2; Sedge Warbler 6; Blackbird 2; Wren 4; Robin 6; Great Tit 5; Chiffchaff 2; Swallow 26; Reed Bunting 2; House Martin 1; Goldfinch 9; House Sparrow 7; Greenfinch 5; Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Pied Wagtail 1; Tree Pipit 1; Linnet 1; Blue Tit 3.

Sedge Warbler
Star bird - Tree Pipit
Using biometrics to confirm identification of the Tree Pipit

Photos Mike Tyler

Sunday 14 August 2016

Weekend ringing session

This weekend was the second of the Group's summer programme and resulted in 101 birds being processed. Many migrants had high fat scores suggesting there were many passing through. As one would expect the majority were juveniles, including 14 Chiffchaffs. Several Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Sedge and Reed Warblers were among them. Below are two excellent photographs taken by our member Brendan Sheils of Kingfishers caught during the session.

Our early autumn weekend session is programmed for 3rd and 4th September.

Monday 1 August 2016


Please note due to inclement weather conditions the session due tomorrow 2nd August is cancelled.

Sorry about that.


Friday 22 July 2016

Kingfisher day

The Group is still working about twice a month on the Seaton Wetlands and last Monday had a catch of 77 birds, including three Kingfishers. Although not breeding on the lower reaches of the River Axe they certainly do higher up the river. We could not resist publishing these photographs taken by Chels at Dark Fairy Photography.

I will try and escape

Perhaps I will not bother

This is the life!

Monday 18 July 2016

The public face of the Group

Last Saturday was the Natural Seaton Festival and the Group were invited to present a display of our activities. We have done this on previous occasions and is good to spread the word of our important work and hopefully recruit new members. Last Saturday was no exception. Photographs taken are shown and the second taken when the morning became busy.

Photographs Mike Tyler

Friday 8 July 2016

Juveniles galore

Certainly a good breeding season for some species on and close to the Seaton Wetlands, with 134 birds of 21 species were caught today. The tally was:

Blackcap 9; Long-tailed Tit 1; Chiffchaff 23; Blue Tit 14; Great Tit 13; Chaffinch 13; Goldfinch 17; Robin 4; Dunnock 7; Swift 1; Kingfisher 1; Swallow 2; Willow Warbler 1; Reed Warbler 2; House Martin 1; Wren 2; Bullfinch 1; Reed Bunting 2; Greenfinch 17; Goldcrest 1; and Blackbird 2. 

 Of these only 24 were not identified as juveniles.

Not a bad morning's work!

Monday 20 June 2016

Kestrel nestlings

The Group were able to ring a brood of five Kestrels nesting in a special box erected by the East Devon District Council on the Wetlands. Photographs below show the results.

(c) Photos by John Richards and Lesley and Peter Clarke

Monday 6 June 2016

Migration and young birds

Since the last post the Group have been very active in catching nearly 300 birds of 24 species, including the ringing of 40 nestlings. These comprised of migrants passing through and remaining to breed on the Wetlands. The pleasure of catching and ringing young birds is always a delight in late spring and early summer. With an active programme for the rest of the summer we look forward to some interesting species visiting the Wetlands.
Some really nice copyright photographs appear below, where otherwise stated, kindly permitted for us for posting by Chels of Dark Fairy Photography ( We are more than grateful to her in allowing us to use her high resolution photographs.

An aggressive male Greenfinch

Who do you think you are looking at!

Sedge Warbler twins!

A nice Sedge Warbler

Blue Tit in early spring

A Chaffinch with the wow factor (Photo Mike Tyler)

The wing pattern of a Goldfinch (Photo Mike Tyler)

Thursday 7 April 2016

Spring migrants

Last Tuesday the Group attempted a early start at the far end of Colyford Common.

The weather was kind and with little wind the sites on Colyford Common were worth attempting despite the jaunt with the equipment from the FSB (Discovery Hut). A total of 44 birds were caught included only five retraps. One retrap was the Siberian Chiffchaff originally ringed by the Group on 11th March this year. A bird reluctant to migrate back to its breeding site. Another surprise, although not in a net, was a female Marsh Harrier we disturbed on arrival, probably using the reed beds as a roost site.

Anyway the 44 birds comprised of: Willow Warbler 14 (probable early morning fall) certainly most had a nil or very low fat and muscle scores; Chiffchaff 11(2) no doubt some of the new birds accompanying the Willow Warblers; Cetti's Warbler 1; Wren 5(1); Dunnock 3(1); Long-tailed Tit 2(1); Greenfinch 4; Blackcap 1; Reed Bunting 2; and Blue Tit 1.

All in all a good morning.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Spring ringing underway

Following a poor winter of catching duck our first spring mist netting session shows a promising start. A total of 43 birds were caught of 14 species. Included of interest were two Cetti's Warblers, male and female, so perhaps a breeding pair, one can only hope. The local habitat is ideal for breeding. A late first winter Redwing was rather nice and a Siberian Chiffchaff of the tristis race, a first for the Group.

Chiffchaff  tristis

Chiffchaff tristis


All photos supplied by Allan Reese

Friday 19 February 2016

Further cancellations

Due to few duck in the usual catching areas the cannon net sessions programmed for 21st February and 12th March are cancelled. Sorry about that, but perhaps next winter will be colder and the ducks will be more plentiful.


Wednesday 27 January 2016


Please note that the duck catching session programmed for this Saturday is cancelled due to too few duck.

Sorry if you hoped to join us.


Saturday 9 January 2016

First catch of 2016

The session was nearly cancelled, but with a dry spell this morning allowed us to our first catch of the year. The cannon net was set yesterday afternoon with a chance we may be lucky. The team was ready, but all relied on the weather. We were lucky, but only a few duck put in an appearance, but were duly caught. These comprised of three Mallard and seventeen Shelduck. We also caught a juvenile Mute Swan and three Pheasants who decided to join the ducks. The Pheasant were released! As soon after processing the birds the heavens opened again and a deluge took place. A lucky chance it was, which showed on the faces of the team. (See photograph).

The happy team (Photo (c) Mike Tyler)