Thursday 28 December 2017

End of year duck catch

At daybreak today 16 hardy souls met on Seaton Marshes to attempt a catch of duck, including our project species, the Shelduck. The catch was relatively small for a cannon net catch, which was as well with a small team of volunteers. Despite the frosty conditions seven Shelduck, all of the species on the lagoon, six Mallard and eleven Wigeon were caught. This was the first catch on our former site for over two years and that is thanks to the Countryside Team, East Devon District Council reviving the habitat for duck. This session concluded our duck research for the year.

A fine male Shelduck (Photo Allan Reese)

Releasing of a Shelduck (Photo Allan Reese)

The magnificent head of a male Wigeon (Photo Mike Tyler)

Measuring head and bill of a female Mallard (Photo Allan Reese)

The team with cannons right in the foreground (Photo Allan Reese)

Thursday 21 December 2017

End of year mist netting session.

Monday this week was the last mist netting session of the year and resulted in a smaller haul than usual, but perhaps it was as well as we had a small team that morning. Nevertheless 32 birds were caught including another Redwing as it flew across the marsh. A few Chiffchaffs, together with their travelling companions Goldcrest, were caught at the same time. Hopefully we will be able to proceed with a duck catch between Christmas and the New Year.

To our followers and supporters have a wonderful Christmas from the Axe Estuary Ringing Group.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

New species catch for Group

The calm overcast mild conditions were ideal today for the Group to carry out some ringing on Seaton Marshes. In fact 58 birds of 16 species were caught, not so high as normal, but very varied and with two highlights. The first surprise was a Lesser Redpoll a first for the Group and a lovely first year bird. Although not unusual for the time of the year, but less likely to be seen on marshes ,was a our first Redwing of the winter. 

Of the other species six Cetti's Warbler were in the catch of which included five retraps. The mild winters and ideal habitat have enabled this species to colonise the Seaton Wetlands in the last few years and will form part of a special study by the Group in 2018. Twelve Reed Bunting were caught at the crack of dawn as they left their roost. 

The final session of the year will be just before Christmas.

Adult Redwing 

Inquisitive first year  Lesser Redpoll

Male Reed Bunting in winter plumage

(Above three photographs by Mike Tyler)

Our Lesser Redpoll in a different pose

(Photograph Sue Murphy)

Tuesday 7 November 2017

A good start to November

Yesterday the Group, with weather on its side, caught 87 birds of 19 species. The highlights were a Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, 20 Long-tailed Tits and ten Chiffchaffs. All in all a very good morning.

Grey Wagtail

Photo by Sue Murphy

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Last wader catch

Last evening was probably the last wader catch this autumn. Not a high total netted, but included Teal 2; Common Snipe 3; Redshank 1; and Green Sandpiper 1.

Well done to the team.

Friday 20 October 2017

Rescheduled success

Well! The rescheduled session turned out better than expected with 77 birds caught of 16 species. The highlight probably the seven Cetti's Warblers caught in one morning. Only one was a retrap suggesting the others may had come from a far. 

Still a few Chiffchaffs (6 caught) and Blackcaps (3 caught) around and a increase in the number of Goldcrest, four that been caught. So a very good morning for the team.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Rescheduled session

Please note the session programmed for this Saturday is cancelled and rescheduled for next Tuesday 17th October.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Mike Tyler

Tuesday 26 September 2017


Please note the session programmed for Sunday 1st October is cancelled due to  circumstances beyond our control.


Mike Tyler

Sunday 24 September 2017

Another interesting session

Yesterday the Group set several nets in the hope to catch a few straggler migrants and ended with 138 birds of 18 species. Migrants accounted for nine Chiffchaffs and ten Blackcaps, but interesting was a Green Woodpecker a species rarely caught on the Wetlands. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also caught and a record 51 Goldfinches and a Kestrel. A good morning all round.

Juvenile Green Woodpecker
Adult female Kestrel

Photographs Miriam Guard

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Migrant movement

Today the Group caught 54 birds of 19 species, including two Whitethroats, one Lesser Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, and four Reed Warblers. Another new Cetti's Warbler, suggesting a few have bred or now frequenting the wetlands.

Photographs Sue Murpthy 

Saturday 26 August 2017


It is with regret, due to lack of fully qualified ringers, that the session programmed for 2nd September had to be cancelled. An new date may be possible.

Lucky day with a fall of migrants

Last Thursday's session was not only programmed to hopefully take advantage of any migrant fall, but surprisingly attracted 116 members of the public to the Discovery Hut where it was all happening. There was a fall of migrants along the south coast, which I am sure accounted for some of our high numbers of Chiffchaffs. These totalled 33 and other migrants included Blackcap 6, House Martin 8, Willow Warbler 3, Sedge Warbler 8, Whitethroat 1. The juvenile Cetti's Warbler and four Reed Warblers were more than likely to be local.

The only other species in caught in good numbers were 29 Goldfinches. The total catch for the morning was 136 of 19 species. A session to be remembered.

First year House Martin

First year Willow Warbler

Photographs - Mike Tyler

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Summer catches continue

Last Saturday 64 birds were caught of 14 species, the highlights included two Kingfishers.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Nice summer catch

Yesterday was the first ringing session for August organised by the Group and considered a success. A total of 89 birds of 14 species was caught and only eight retraps from previous catches. Mind you the catch took place at Colyford Common at the far end of the Wetlands and considered by some birdwatchers as a place of few birds. Well we again proved it to be otherwise. The habitat is good and with little disturbance as fewer members of the public venture that far away from the centre of activity.

The morning started well with little wind and light cloud. This was to change with darken clouds on the horizon resulting in a heavy downpour, with the team of six of us moving quickly to furl the nets. Later we could open them to conclude the morning activity.

The tally was of interest and included, 10 Sedge Warblers, 24 Reed Warblers, 5 House Sparrows, 5 Robins, 9 Willow Warblers, 17 Blue Tits, 6 Chiffchaffs, 4 Wrens, 2 Swallows, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Dunnock, 1 Cetti's Warbler and 2 Reed Buntings.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Showing the flag

The Group have been invited for several years to set a display of our work at the Natural Seaton Festival and attending the last on Saturday 15th July was no exception. We intend to highlight our stand for future years, but nevertheless many folk visited us and took and interest in the ringing of birds. It is also a good event to explain our conservation work and recruit new members. 

Photos Mike Tyler

Good catches

Our last two sessions have shown a steady number of birds, mainly juveniles as one would expect at this time of the year. A total of 192 birds of twenty species. No specific highlights other than perhaps the usual distribution of Kingfishers from higher up the Axe and Coly Rivers and tributaries. Two were caught at the second of the sessions on 17th July.

Juvenile Kingfishers (Photo Mike Tyler) 

Thursday 6 July 2017


Please note due to unexpected circumstances the session programmed for Friday 7th July. is cancelled. Next session will be on Monday 17th July.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Bumper morning

An unexpected large catch of 136 birds, including five Swallow pulli, of 17 species created excitement for the small team of six ringers this morning. No rarities of course, but a good number of juvenile birds visiting the Wetlands. The highlight was a breeding second year female Lesser Whitethroat and number of Reed Warblers that had been ringed by the Group in previous years, including a control.

The tally was: Robin 11; Greenfinch 15; Reed Bunting 1; Lesser Whitethroat 1; Chaffinch 15; Goldfinch 10; Reed Warbler 21; Chiffchaff 13; Blackcap 9; Sedge Warbler 2; Cetti's Warbler 3; Great Tit 10; Blue Tit 7; Bullfinch 2; Blackbird 7; and Dunnock 4. 

One of the five Swallow pulli (Photo Sue Murphy)

Breeding female Lesser Whitethroat (Photo Mike Tyler)

Juvenile Goldfinch (Photo Mike Tyler)

Friday 9 June 2017

Kestrel chicks

Kestrel boxes erected on the Wetlands produced two nests containing five and four nestlings respectively, which were ringed yesterday.

Monday 5 June 2017

Early risers catch the birds!

Today the Group of six ringers caught 95 birds before the storms arrived. Of those 31 House Martins and 12 Sand Martins were ringed after flying low catching insects. Fifteen further species were caught concluding a really good morning's catch.

Just after taking the nets down a lovely Red-back Shrike decided to put in an appearance. Anyway, one cannot be too greedy.

Thursday 25 May 2017

A Reed Warbler haul with a surprise!

This week's programmed session expected to perhaps slightly different in that we were working at the far end of Colyford Common and in the relatively new reed bed. Out of 59 birds caught and processed 23 were Reed Warblers. One of these warblers was first caught by the Group  as an adult female on 16th July 2009 and subsequently again on 26th June 2012, 21st May 2013 and finally on 24th May 2017. When first caught as an adult there was no indication when it had hatched       which could have been in 2008 or even earlier. In any event we do know it had migrated to Africa and back at least nine times. Quite a remarkable feat. This information certainly shows the importance of monitoring migrant warblers.

Of the other species of which there were ten, included Blue Tit, Robin, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Linnet (see photo), Goldfinch, Whitethroat (see Photo), Wren and Great Tit.

An interesting and enjoyable morning.

Two photos of the adult female Linnet (Photo Doug Rudge)

Adult male Whitethroat (Photo Sue Murphy)

Monday 15 May 2017

First weekend session

The Group three times a year hold a weekend session and the last weekend was our first with an encouraging catch. A total of of 98 birds of 22 species were catch and ringed. A wide variety of migrants and resident species. One was an adult male Moorhen shown in the photograph below.

Adult male Moorhen
(Photograph Sue Murphy)

Thursday 4 May 2017

Few birds caught despite dawn chorus

When birds are busy nesting our catches can be limited, especially if migration falls are few on the day. Yesterday was no exception, nevertheless 21 birds were caught including several Reed and Sedge Warblers, 

Sedge Warbler

Male Goldfinch

Photos by Nicola Russell

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Latest catch

The Group travelled to the edge of the Seaton Wetlands to work the new reed beds and set nets in and close to the Crop Field. This area can be a gamble with many catches containing interesting species visiting the Wetlands. On this occasion, last Saturday, only 24 birds were caught. No real highlights, but the 34 members of the public who made the distance to see us ringing birds was nevertheless a bonus for them. The catch included Greenfinch 3, Wren 2, Great Tit 4, Goldfinch 1, Reed Bunting 2, Long-tailed Tit 2, Blackbird 1, Blue Tit 2, Reed Warbler 1, Robin 1, Cetti's Warbler 2, and Dunnock 3.

Male Greenfinch

Long-tailed Tit

Photographs Nigel Marsh
Male Reed Bunting

Reed Warbler

Photographs Luke Broderick

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Wide selection of species

Yesterday's session on the Seaton Wetlands produced a fine selection of 29 birds of 16 species which included an early catch of a Kestrel. Believed to be one of a pair breeding in the area. Other birds included: Willow Warblers; Chiffchaffs; Reed Buntings; Goldfinches; and a Blackcap.

Early catch Kestrel


Photographs by Luke Broderick

Friday 24 March 2017

Lovely Bullfinch

A recent session down on the Seaton Wetlands enabled the Group to catch 42 birds of 13 species including 14 Chiffchaffs on migration and a lovely male Bullfinch as seen in the photographs.

Photo: Susan Murphy

Photo: Luke Broderick

Sunday 12 March 2017

Winter's over

Migration to their breeding grounds are well underway with fewer birds now seen in their wintering quarters. This was particularly noticeable on the Wetlands. Fewer birds seen and at our last ringing session resulting in fewer caught. Seventeen in total, including three Mallard caught in the Abberton Traps and a fine looking Treecreeper.

Treecreeper (Photo Sue Murphy)

Friday 24 February 2017

Spotting colour rings

The Group are known for its work on certain species and these are subject to  colour ring schemes. The species are Shelduck with black lettering on a yellow background, Black-tailed Godwits with site rings red-yellow-red and Wigeon with black letters on lime green.

Hopefully visitors to the Blog will keep their eyes open and send an e-mail to the address shown on the Blog.

Ringed Wigeon
Ringed Shelduck
                                                                 Ringed Black-tailed Godwit

                                                                     Photographs Mike Tyler

Tuesday 21 February 2017

More ducks!

The programmed mist netting session took place today with 30 birds caught and processed. Nothing of note, but four ducks comprising of two Teal and two Mallard, together with a Moorhen were trapped in the Abberton Traps. Nice surprise following only one Teal last Saturday at the Otter Estuary, despite the use of cannon nets.

Adult Moorhen

Adult male Great Spotted Woodpecker

Adult male Teal
Photographs Doug Rudge

Saturday 18 February 2017

A cunning plan!

When does a cunning plan succeed ?  Well it didn't for the Group today at its monthly winter catch of Wigeon at the Otter Estuary. Careful planning nearly caught 250 Wigeon on two occasions during the morning. Yes, twice the flock were in 20 metres of being caught. The ducks just wandered in the wrong direction grazing as they waddled. Not to be entirely beaten and to ensure something for those who gave up their Saturday morning, we tried to catch two Teal that had been on the edge of the catching area all morning. Well one was caught! See photograph of an attractive adult male.

Adult male Teal given detailed attention (Photo Mike Tyler)