Tuesday 17 December 2019

Last ringing session for 2019

Today was the last day the Group carried out ringing until the New Year. After a doubtful start with light rain we were lucky for a break in the weather enabling a start. Despite a short session we caught 36 birds of ten species. No highlights on this occasion, but an enjoyable session nevertheless.

May I take the opportunity to thank our supporters throughout 2019 and to wish everyone a happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.

Mike Tyler

Saturday 14 December 2019

First winter duck catch

Today the Group held its first winder duck catch at Seaton Marshes and 41 ducks were caught. These comprised of three Mallard   and 37 Shelduck. A team of over 20 members attended.

The catching team
Photo Mike Tyler

Tuesday 19 November 2019

First winter visitors

Today the Group were lucky to find a day of weather ideal for mist netting. Little wind, dry and cloudy. It resulted in 64 birds being caught and processed of 15 species. Over wintering Chiffchaffs as well as two Redwings being the Group's first winter visitors, apart from the Chiffchaffs. A female Sparrowhawk was caught no doubt in the area looking for a meal with the high number of passerines. Two Cetti's Warblers were also caught hoping a mild winter will help to increase the survival rate of breeding next year.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Late autumn catch

Yesterday with a fine break in the wet and windy weather of late allowed the Group to carry out a late autumn catch. A high number of members attended no doubt to to enjoy the dryer conditions. They were not disappointed, with a haul of 64 birds of 16 species. Of those, a fine male Firecrest was caught and ringed, one of several apparently seen in the area. A Treecreeper was caught, which is always a treat and a Grey Wagtail being the first bird of the morning. A female Mallard near the ringing base was enticed to some grain and fell in the hands of the team. Nineteen Long-tailed Tits were caught as well as seven Goldcrests and three Chiffchaffs.

Male Firecrest 


Long-tailed Tit

Photographs Felix Littlechild

Friday 18 October 2019

Varied species catch

On last Wednesday evening the Group were lucky to find an opening in the unsettled weather to proceed with the second of our autumn wader mist netting sessions. Lovely calm evening with a vivid sunset. Nine nets were set on the Colyford Marsh lagoon area, where a variety of wader species roost. Never large numbers, but usually enough for the team to cope with and enable training of trainees to take place.

The total of 11 waders with a male and female Teal were caught. Five Dunlin all juveniles,the same number of Curlew of which two were retraps from previous sessions and one a juvenile. The little star of the evening was a Jack Snipe which is always a nice bird to catch. 

Wednesday 9 October 2019


Please note due to inclement weather forecast for Saturday 12th October the public ringing demonstration has been cancelled.

Sunday 22 September 2019

Early autumn catch

Yesterday the Group were fortunate to process 48 birds of 15 species, including a Kingfisher, six Blackcaps and the same number of Chiffchaffs. A Woodpigeon blundered into a net and was successfully extracted by a member of the Group before it escaped by rolling out. One Reed Warbler was caught on migration as well as other resident species.

1st year Woodpigeon

1st year Kingfisher.

Photographs Mike Tyler

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Autumn waders Colyford Marsh

Last night was the first of two wader ringing sessions arranged for this autumn. The site of Colyford Marsh is very difficult to work with heavy mud, which is covered at hide tides. So care needs to be taken, not just for the birds. The number of waders frequenting the site at night to feed and roost can vary considerably, but only a few have ever been netted for ringing at any session. Last evening was no exception with a Teal and seven waders caught. These were: Common Snipe 1; Dunlin 4; and Whimbrel 2. The latter were both juveniles.

1. One of the juvenile Whimbrels 

2. Common Snipe
3. First year male Dunlin

Photographs 1 Allan Reese 2 & 3 Mike Tyler

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Corvid visitor

Yesterday the Group were holding a scheduled ringing demonstration when it caught a Magpie as well as other smaller birds, including Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. The Magpie was one rarely caught on the Wetlands.

Juvenile Magpie

Photograph Miriam Guard 

Friday 23 August 2019

A charm of Goldfinches

After the mist cleared the birds began to emerge to feed at Colyton Common. The Group were kept busy extracting and processing 70 birds of 14 species. Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Reed Warblers, a Whitethroat, and a Sedge Warbler were the order of migrants for the day.

The highlight were a flock of more than 40 Goldfinches teasing us, of which 21 eventually were caught. A good number for the Wetlands.

Juvenile Blackcap

Juvenile Whitethroat

Photographs Mike Tyler

Monday 5 August 2019

Urgent Notice

Please note, due to matters outside our control the session programmed for Saturday 10th August is cancelled.

Mike Tyler

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Colyford Common

Today the Group decided for the first time this year to erect a few nets at Colyford Common which is somewhat exposed to windy conditions, so a short session took place. Fourteen birds were caught of six species the Whitethroat being the highlight of the morning. Six juvenile Reed Warblers were included in the total with one Blackcap.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Natural Seaton Festival

For several years now the Natural Seaton Festival has taken place. The Group have been fortunate to set its display at this Festival last Saturday outlining why we ring birds and displaying maps showing where the birds we ringed have migrated to and of their return. This was specific in relation to colour ringing wildfowl and waders.  

Fortunately the weather was good and we had many enquiries about the Group and questions of our conservation work. This year we were able to show two large cabinets of bird skulls collected by our Leader over more than fifty years. These certainly drew the attention of both children and adults.

To take part in these festivals and shows enables us to explain our work  and why bird ringing is an important conservation tool.

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Good numbers this time

The catch this morning included 88 birds of 17 species. Good numbers of Blackcaps and Reed Warblers as well as the usual species, including nine Dunnocks, eight Blue Tits and eight Goldfinches. As expected the majority were juveniles.

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Quieter times

Last Saturday's session was quieter than normal with 24 birds of 13 species. Nevertheless wide range of species for a small number caught. Two Treecreepers caught was a interesting catch for a marshy site, but one never knows what may be about. A young Kingfisher was caught, which became a nice surprise for two visitors to the Wetlands from North America.


Photograph Fran Knowles

Monday 1 July 2019

Axe Vale Wildlife Day

Last Sunday the Axe Vale Wildlife Day took place at Seaton Wetlands and the Group were invited by the Chairman of the Axe Vale and District Conservation Soviety's Chairman, Doug Rudge, to participate in the Reed Base. We were invited last year, but only used our display boards. This year we tried to attract the attention of the public by, not just upgrading the display boards, but with two display cabinets of bird skulls . A nature table was also prepared. These certainly drew the attention, not only of the children, but adults as well.

Display boards

Private bird skull collection

The nature table

Photographs Mike Tyler

Friday 28 June 2019

weather permits a good catch

With the disappointment of having to cancel the last couple of sessions we were able to get a catch in before the end of June. This took place yesterday with a good morning's catch of 95 birds of 19 species. The majority were juveniles as expected at this time of the year and including several summer migrants of Swallow, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and Blackcap. The first juvenile Kingfisher of the year was caught, as well as, several finches and a juvenile Cetti's Warbler, suggesting it bred on the site. 

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Good start to spring

Today the Group met to mist net on the Wetlands and caught 51 passerines and ringed 14 pulli of two species. The total did not include any surprises in the 16 species processed. A few juvenile birds were present and this will now increase over the following weeks.

Friday 10 May 2019

Warblers arrived

The session yesterday was noted for the arrival of resident warblers, some with brood patches. The reed beds becoming filled with noisy Reed Warblers. Altogether 39 birds were caught of 13 species including, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler. A reasonable start to the breeding season.

Female Blackcap  (Photo Mike Tyler)

Sunday 14 April 2019

Public demonstration

The Group held a public demonstration of bird ringing today and had 23 people attend during the morning. They enjoyed watching the processing of 33 birds of 13 species, including several migrants, as well as the usual expected species.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Colourful catch

Today the Group acted as hosts to the Reaseheath University College, Cheshire when 16 students and their tutors visited the Wetlands and spent the morning helping with the Group's ringing activities. This was part of the students field studies towards gaining an environment degree.

The species caught included, a Goldfinch, male and female Bullfinch and the highlight of the morning a male Redstart. These certainly made the morning colourful as opposed to the "little brown jobs" although those are still important in our research. A total of 30 birds were caught and processed of 15 species, including migrant Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.

Photographs by Mark Wills of the male Redstart 

Second year Male Bullfinch bearing a tick under its bill (Photo Mike Tyler) 

Wednesday 20 March 2019

No migrants today

Our mist netting session today did not result in any expected migrants, although two Cetti's Warblers were retrapped, one a female. So will they breed this year on the Wetlands? The weather conditions today were ideal, cloud, dry and little wind. Forty birds were caught of 14 species as follows: Wren 4; Greenfinch 2; Goldfinch 8; Robin 6; Song Thrush 1; Bullfinch 2; Long-tailed Tit (1); Reed Bunting 3; Blackbird 1; Chaffinch 6; Cetti's Warbler 2; Great Tit 1; Dunnock 1; Blue Tit 2. Finches at garden bird tables appear to have increased in recent days similar to what was experienced today.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Busy morning

Friday 9th March turned out to be busy with a public session as well as the Countryside Team's Outdoor Group of 34 members joining us. With a small team we organised ourselves into two groups one operating in the Discovery Hut to demonstrate ringing and the large group in the Reed Base. Fortunately only 29 birds were caught so the morning was not to hectic enabling a smooth activity of sharing the birds between the groups. The Kingfisher was as usual the star draw to all as expected. Richard Austin the well known photographer was on hand most of the morning and took many photographs of the birds caught. So probably some photographs may appear in future editions of the Western Morning News. No specific highlights, apart from the Kingfisher and our first spring catch of a Chiffchaff.

Thursday 21 February 2019

Winter ringing

Despite a gathering wind the Group were able to spend the yesterday morning mist netting birds in a sheltered site on Colyton Common. Thirty birds were caught of eleven species, although no specific species to highlight. The catch included 5 Long-tailed Tits and 3 Reed Buntings.

Shelduck catch

On Sunday the Group met at Seaton Marshes at the crack of dawn to catch duck for the last time this winter. We were joined by students from the University College Reaseheath, Cheshire who helped with the processing of the catch. Unusually only Shelduck were caught in the cannon net, but a reasonable catch of 60. There were 19 new birds which has been the highest number at any catch this winter. The others were retraps from previous catches some first ringed in 2006. A long life non quarry duck which is loyal to winter sites. All Shelduck form part of the only specialist project monitoring their movements and longevity, with each bird colour ringed with a yellow Darvic ring with black lettering. Please submit any sightings to the Group at axeestuaryringing@gmail.com 

Tutors and students University College Reaseheath, Cheshire

Photograph Mike Tyler

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Dreary day

Today was dull and misty, but a few birds were caught and processed. The sudden mild spell must have had an effect on feeding habits. The abundance of school children on the Wetlands could have had an effect.

Wednesday 16 January 2019

First mist netting session for 2019 off to a good start

Yesterday the Group's first mist netting session was a success with 63 birds caught of 14 species. The highlights being a Redwing, rarely caught on the Wetlands and a Teal, although not uncommon is rarely caught in a mist net. The other species were those one would expect, but there was an unusual leucistic Blackbird with several white feathers. Four Bullfinches and seven Long-tailed Tits also graced the catch.


Leucistic male Blackbird

Male Bullfinch

Photographs copyright Mark Wills

Monday 14 January 2019

First duck catch for 2019

Our first duck catch for 2019 took place at Seaton Marshes on Saturday 12th January and resulted in a reasonable catch of of 54 birds. These included 47 Shelduck, 5 Mallard, 1 Teal and 1 Wigeon. The previous catch in December resulted in a catch of 20 Shelduck of which eleven were retrapped at this latest session. At the time of firing the cannons all except three Shelduck all those present were caught suggesting at least 63 have visited the site so far this winter. The Shelduck is site loyal species. Hopefully we will catch more Wigeon at our last session in February as there are in the region of 50 birds wintering in the vicinity.

Four teams busy processing the catch

Adult male Teal
Photographs Mike Tyler