Christchurch Harbour Ringing Station – Ringing News 2011
It is getting increasingly difficult to spot a flycatcher, notice a Nightingale, or catch a glimpse of a Cuckoo. Huge numbers of our African migrants have already disappeared. The BTO Out of Africa research aims to find out why. Click here for full details.
CHRS Bi-ennial Report 2008-2009
This is now complete, incorporating full details of all ringing operations carried out by Ringers at CHRS during 2008 & 2009. Click here for full details of how to get your copy.
The BTO Ringing Blog has details of a CHRS-ringed Sedge Warbler trapped recently in Senegal by a group of Spanish Ringers. I will update the Recoveries page as soon as I have full details from the BTO.
I have updated the ringing totals for 2010 upto the end of October. Click here .
A very frosty start at the HHC resulted in the expected lack of birds. Early on four Wrens were trapped which were all retraps then things improved as I switched the reedbed tape to Bearded Reedling as several had been seen in the vicinity recently. Almost immediately a small flock of about 6-8 birds flew out of the adjacent reedbed and after I checked the nets 2 males were retrieved. We haven't managed to catch one of these since 1990. As we were taking down, a juvenile female Green Woodpecker was caught. Thanks to Paul, Jaimie, Carole, Kathryn and Brenda for their help today.
Bearded Reedling Male HHC Oct 2010 Kevin Sayer
Bearded Reedlings Males HHC Oct 2010 Kathryn Ross
Another alba roost resulted in 7 Pied Wagtails a Reed Bunting and a Blue Tit.
I started the day scraping ice off my car windscreen and by mid-morning was regretting leaving the sun-screen at home. It was that sort of a day! We were at the Nursery for another session where we managed a very late juvenile Reed Warbler along with numerous Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. Taking a very close look at the acro warbler as well as taking a full wing-formulae resulted in the aforementioned conclusion. The measurement of notch on 2nd primary divided by wing length using the 'Walinder Method' is a means of ruling out Marsh Warbler (cf.Svensson). We also managed to trap 2 Green Woodpeckers one of which was the juvenile male originally trapped at the HHC on 30 Sept earlier this year. The second bird was an adult female. The days' totals were:-Chiffchaff 7, Goldcrest 9, Wren 3, Green Woodpecker 2, Reed Warbler 1, Blackbird 4, Robin 4, Dunnock 2, Blackcap 2 and 3 Great Tits. Thanks to Paul and Brenda for their help today.
On a very chilly morning at the HHC we did considerably better than I had expected after first light. Conditions improved throughout the morning and we managed to catch a further 38 birds. Our first Lesser Redpoll was trapped along with another 21 Chiffchaffs. The days' totals were:- Chiffchaff 21, Goldcrest 4, Robin 2, Reed Warbler 1, Blackbird 1, Lesser Redpoll 1, Wren 1, Blue Tit 5, Long-tailed Tit 1 and a single Blackcap. Thanks to Carole and Paul for their help today.
Lesser Redpoll HHC Oct 2010 Kevin Sayer
An alba roost this eveing could only muster 2 Pied Wagtails, 1 Wren and 1 Robin.
Pied Wagtail HHC Oct 2010 Kevin Sayer
This morning we had a session at The Nursery which in the past at this time of year has turned up some tasty birds from the east. It appears that the Chiffchaffs have all but left us but we still have plenty of Goldcrests to keep us busy. As well as handling Britain's smallest bird we also managed to trap a Siskin and a Treecreeper. This is only the 7th and 9th capture of these species respectively, within the recording area. More of a sign that most Siskins just pass over our heads and Treecreepers being a woodland species tends to be only found in The Nursery. The days' totals were:- Robin 4, Goldcrest 11, Blackbird 4, Blue Tit 6, Blackcap 1, Great Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Siskin 1, Treecreeper 1, Magpie 1 and 3 Long-tailed Tits. Thanks to Paul and Kathryn for their help today.
Treecreeper at The Nursery Oct 2010 Kevin Sayer
The higher-than-expected spring high-tide almost caught us out - lucky I had my waders in the car! It was quite a site looking across the harbour towards Stanpit at high-tide - couldn't see anything but water upto the warden's hut! We managed our first Kingfisher for the year today caught of all places in the "No Dogs" field. A few more Blackcap and Chiffchaffs made up our total of 31 birds. We spent the quiet periods identifying all the migrants flying over our heads - I think we got most right! Totals were:- Blackcap 5, Chiffchaff 9, Robin 3, Cetti's Warbler 2, Dunnock 1, Greenfinch 5, Goldcrest 3, Long-tailed Tit 1, Song Thrush 1 and the Kingfisher. Thanks to Andrew, Louise, Kathryn, Christine and Paul for their help today.
Our first alba roost of the autumn was attempted tonight. A reasonable catch of 13 birds was achieved including a juvenile White Wagtail. We also trapped a Wren and a Chiffchaff.
A quieter day today, as far as the ringing was concerned, although lots was going over our heads! This included a Gannet which made us all take a second look. It headed out to sea so goodnesss knows where it came from! Nothing too unusual in what we did catch - just the usual fayre of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Another Goldcrest was trapped which wasn't totally unexpected. The days' totals were:- Chiffchaff 12, Blackcap 8, Woodpigeon 1, Blue Tit 2, Cetti's Warbler 3, Song Thrush 1, Long-tailed Tit 4 and the Goldcrest. A grand total of 32 birds. Thanks to Louise, Andrew and Paul for their help.
Goldcrest Juvenile male HHC Oct 2010 Kevin Sayer
Goldcrest Juvenile Male HHC Oct 2010 Kevin Sayer
A thick fog welcomed us to the HHC this morning giving the ringing area a surreal feel. However, the sun soon appeared and we managed a healthy morning's catch of 65 birds. As expected Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps dominated but we did manage a few other specialities too. A male Goldcrest was trapped in the reedbed which is hopefully the first of many this Autumn, making up for the complete lack of this species in 2009. We also trapped our first Chaffinch for 2010 - a bit of a rarity around here! We also trapped a juvenile male Green Woodpecker which is probably the result of local breeding. The days' totals were:- Chiffchaff 24, Blackcap 14, Cetti's Warbler 5, Robin 6, Blue Tit 5, Song Thrush 1, Wren 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 1, Woodpigeon 1, Reed Bunting 1, Dunnock 2, Goldcrest 1, Chaffinch 1 and a single Green Woodpecker. Thanks to Kate, Louise, Andrew and Paul for their help today.
Kate ringing the Green Woodpecker HHC Sept 2010 Kevin Sayer
Green Woodpecker HHC Sept 2010 Kevin Sayer
The BBC News website has the story of the Arctic Tern which has set a new UK longevity record of 30 years, 2 months and 23 days. Click here for the story.
With less wind than we expected we managed a reasonable haul of 53 birds. The highlight was 2 Grasshopper Warblers with reasonable numbers of Chiffchaffs and acro warblers still trickling through. The totals were:- Reed Warbler 8, Sedge Warbler 10, Blackcap 8, Chiffchaff 16, Blackbird 1, Wren 1, Cetti's Warbler 1, Great Tit 1, Robin 1, Blue Tit 1, Magpie 1, Reed Bunting 2 and 2 Grasshopper Warblers. Thanks to Andrew (soon to be a Grade C Ringer), Louise, Kathryn and Paul.
The Chiffchaffs arrived today in good numbers - far outnumbering the Willow Warblers. An increase in Blackcap numbers was also achieved. The only unusual bird was a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (see photo below) amongst the 77 birds trapped. The days' totals were:- 16 Sedge Warbler, 2 Willow Warbler, 30 Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Warbler, 1 Greenfinch, 8 Blue Tit, 2 Whitethroat, 10 Blackcap, 3 Robin, 1 Great Tit and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker. Thanks to Paul, Ed and Sean for their help today.
Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker HHC Kevin Sayer
A steady supply of new migrants were trapped today at the HHC. Nothing too spectacular, just the usual fayre with a noticeable increase in Chiffchaffs. The 'expected' spring high-tide did catch us out as we took down our nets (See photo below). The days' totals were:- 5 Reed Warbler, 25 Sedge Warbler, 12 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler, 1 Robin, 1 Greenfinch, 5 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat and 2 Reed Buntings. A total of 57 birds.
HHC Reedbed net-ride at high-tide Kevin Sayer
The water-level was over welly-depth which meant a change of clothing after we had finished!
A largeish catch of Sedge Warblers immediately after dawn was unexpected along with a juvenile Stonechat. A few more Blackcaps are appearing but we still await the main arrival of Chiffchaffs. The totals were:- Sedge Warbler 44, Reed Warbler 2, Cetti's Warbler 2 (including a control from ?), Chiffchaff 2, Dunnock 1, Stonechat 1, Willow Warbler 1, Blackcap 8, Whitethroat 1, Robin 3, Greenfinch 1, Blue Tit 2 and a single Swallow making 69 birds in all. Thanks to Tim, Brenda, Carole and Andrew for their help today.
Juvenile Stonechat HHC Kevin Sayer
I have updated the Ringing Totals for 2010 upto 31st August. These can be found on the Features Page here . We could do with a few more new species to match last year. Let's hope one or two Autumn specialities turnup soon.
Another quietish day at the HHC did result in some quality as opposed to quantity. The highlight was our first Spotted Flycatcher for the year but in addition we did manage to trap 9 species of warbler - which must be some sort of a record. The total of 39 birds included:- 22 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Robins, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Blackcaps, 1 Garden Warbler and 2 Blackbirds. Thanks to Tim, Katherine, Carole and Andrew for their help today.
Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher HHC Kevin Sayer
The acro passage is certainly on the decline with only 13 Sedge Warblers caught today. Chiffchaffs appear to have now started coming through with the sight of a net full of Willow Warblers fast becoming a distant memory. Todays' totals were:- 10 Reed Warbler, 13 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Reed Bunting and 2 Blue Tits. A total of only 31 birds with thanks to Tim, Katherine & Elaine for their help.
Before the rains came we managed a healthy 46 birds including a Cetti's Warbler (which caused us a bit of a headache) and an adult Swallow. As the sun rose a small number of Yellow Wagtails (11) left the HHC Reedbed roost - I might go for those later! The days' totals were:- 27 Sedge Warbler, 9 Reed Warbler, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Wren, 2 Blackcap, 4 Robin, 1 Cetti's Warbler and one Swallow (which certainly doesn't make a summer!).
Adult female Swallow HHC Kevin Sayer
Female Cetti's Warbler HHC Kevin Sayer
We couldn't accurately age this bird as it showed characteristics of both an adult and a juvenile. We could sex the bird as a female due to its wing length of 56mm. However, the head (to me anyway) looked adult yet the body feathers looked fresh as per a juvenile. The remiges were all fresh - which would infer a freshly moulted adult. An adult female should still show signs of a brood patch - nothing seen in this department. Therefore, it goes down as un-aged!
On a very windy morning at the HHC we only managed 26 birds. However, the undoubted highlight was our first Grasshopper Warbler for the year (see photo below). The windy conditions certainly kept the migrants away from our nets but we did get:- 14 Sedge Warblers, 7 Reed Warblers, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Greenfinch and a single Dunnock. Thanks to Susan, Carole, Louise and Andrew for their help today.
Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler HHC Aug 2010 Kevin Sayer
On a breezy and chilly morning at the HHC we managed a further 42 birds including all the usual suspects. They were:- 20 Sedge Warblers, 6 Reed Warblers, 9 Willow Warblers, 3 Blackcaps, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Whitethroats and a single Greenfinch. No retraps which infers most birds from recent days have shipped out.
On a chilly and overcast morning very little was moving which was reflected in the fact that we could only muster 35 birds at the HHC today. The totals were:- 21 Sedge Warblers, 6 Reed Warblers, 6 Willow Warblers, 1 Blackcap and a single Chiffchaff. Thanks to Andrew and Susan for their help.
The Willow Warblers are coming through in increasing numbers with a further 26 being trapped at the HHC today. After yesterday's frenetic activity across the reserve it came as no surprise for things to be a bit quieter this morning. However, we still managed a total of 89 birds as follows:- 35 Sedge Warblers, 16 Reed Warblers, 26 Willow Warblers, 1 Dunnock, 4 Robins, 2 Greenfinches, 1 Reed Bunting and 4 Whitethroats. A pair of foxes by the HHC entrance, including a cub, entertained us at dawn as we awaited our first catches. Thanks to Katherine, Susan and Ed for their help today.
A juvenile Sedge Warbler ringed at the HHC on 28 July 2010 was subsequently re-trapped at Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour on 6 August 2010. Thanks to Shaun Robson for the information.
A fall of birds coincided with a ringing session at the HHC - which doesn't happen that often - resulted in a varied selection of birds including our 2nd Lesser Whitethroat for the year. The Willow Warblers are still passing through in exceptional numbers - we have already trapped 122 birds so far this year (we only did 28 in the whole of 2009). The days' totals were:- 87 Sedge Warblers, 18 Reed Warblers, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Robin, 1 Chiffchaff, 22 Willow Warblers, 5 Whitethroats, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Greenfinch, 2 Wrens, 1 Blue Tit and 1 Blackcap. In all 144 birds - not bad with just 3 nets! On a final note, as we were taking down an unused furled net we trapped a further 3 Sedge Warblers - they just can't stay away! Thanks to Susan and Shaun for their help.
Lesser Whitethroat HHC 9 Aug Kevin Sayer
Shaun Robson lending us a hand Kevin Sayer
Adult Sedge Warbler HHC Aug 2010 Kevin Sayer
I first aged this bird as a juvenile because of its darker colouring without really looking closely at the wear on the tertials and greater covert edges. An adult Sedge Warbler would normally look a lot paler - after all it has flown across the Sahara Desert. However, Shaun soon suggested the wear was more like an adult and on closer inspection we found a brood patch starting to feather over. Still learning then!
Another good haul at the HHC with acros dominating. A juvenile Redstart seen near to the HHC entrance got us excited for a short while but that was the last we saw of it. Some passing hirundines gave chase to a Sparrowhawk which also livened up proceedings. The totals were:- 85 Sedge Warblers, 15 Reed Warblers, 2 Greenfinches, 13 Willow Warblers, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Robin and a Whitethroat. In all 118 birds. Thanks to Ed, Brenda and Susan for their help.
A fall of Willow Warblers at the HHC this morning gave us a staggering 44 trapped birds. Along with the steadily increasing number of newly arrived Sedge Warblers gave us an overall total of 169 birds (same as Tuesday!). As usual we were catching acros right from the word go (5.00am) but we didn't catch our first Willow Warbler until 6.30am - perhaps they like a lie-in! The days' totals were:- 91 Sedge Warblers, 14 Reed Warblers, 44 Willow Warblers, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Reed Bunting, 4 Greenfinches, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Blue Tits, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Robin, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Wrens, 1 Great Tit, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Dunnock. Thanks to Sean, Steve, Susan, Andrew and Louise for their help.
With the help of some additional nets and Ringers we managed a very creditable 169 birds this morning at the HHC. Willow Warblers are now coming through in increasing numbers and a late surprise was our first Swallow of the year. The totals were:- 77 Sedge Warblers, 34 Reed Warblers, 1 Reed Bunting, 31 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Dunnocks, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Blackbird, 2 Blackcaps, 6 Whitethroats, 3 Blue Tits, 1 Wren, 2 Greenfinches, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Robins and a Swallow. Thanks to Steve, Kathryn, Susan, Andrew and Louise for their help.
A breezy and overcast dawn resulted in slightly lower numbers than we were hoping for. However, a healthy 82 birds were trapped which included two Linnets (adult male and juvenile). The totals were 27 Sedge Warbler, 35 Reed Warbler, 3 Robin, 2 Linnet, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Blue Tit, 2 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Wren and a Reed Bunting. Thanks to Elaine, Andrew and Carol for their help.
Adult male Linnet HHC Aug 2010 Andrew Carter
Adult male Linnet HHC Aug 2010 Andrew Carter
Another busy morning at the HHC resulted in a ton-up of birds. The usual suspects were all trapped with the oddity being a Garden Warbler (see photo below). We don't normally see these birds until September so we must assume this bird has bred locally - possibly in the Avon valley or New Forest. The total of 111 birds included:- 58 Sedge Warblers, 25 Reed Warblers, 4 Wrens, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Blue Tits, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 5 Whitethroats, 1 Song Thrush, 5 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Reed Buntings, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Garden Warbler and 1 Robin. Thanks to Louise, Andrew, Kathryn and Ed for their help today.
Juvenile Garden Warbler HHC July 2010 Kevin Sayer
The Autumn migration, for acros at least, now appears to be in full swing. With only 3 nets open this morning a very healthy number of birds were trapped, 85 in all. These included 47 Sedge Warblers, 23 Reed Warblers, 4 Reed Buntings, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Whitethroats, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Greenfinches, 1 Dunnock and a Great Tit. Thanks to Susan and Ed for their help.
Taking advantage of our newly-cut net-rides in the HHC Reedbed we caught a very healthy 118 birds today. Nothing unusual except it was good to see so many juvenile Reed Buntings around - yet another good breeding season for them. Most of the acros had little or no fat reserves except for one chubby adult Sedge Warbler which had a fat score of 6 (out of 8). This indicates the majority of the birds were probably local breeders with the main influx of migrants yet to come through. The totals were:- Sedge Warbler 33, Reed Warbler 40, Reed Bunting 18, Whitethroat 5, Chiffchaff 3, Cetti's Warbler 1, Song Thrush 1, Wren 2, Blue Tit 11, Greenfinch 1, Great Tit 2 and one Robin.
Today we re-cut the HHC Reedbed net-rides. The reeds were a lot easier to cut this year due to the very dry summer we are experiencing. Last year's old reeds are still a few inches taller than this year's reeds. It appears that our reedbeds are slowly drying-out and will probably eventually disappear altogether. Thanks to Susan for helping me out today.
HHC Reedbed being cut for the 2010 Autumn Season Kevin Sayer
A sudden squall just after dawn hindered our efforts today at Solent Meads. However, we still managed 16 birds with further evidence of how successful the breeding migrant warblers are in this small wooded part of Christchurch Harbour. The totals were:- 4 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Dunnocks, 3 Great Tits, 1 Robin and 1 Blue Tit. Thanks go to Susan for helping me out in trying conditions.
News today of 2 more interesting recoveries. An adult Reed Warbler which we trapped last May was originally ringed in Seville, Spain only 22 days before we caught it. Also, a juvenile Sedge Warbler trapped in September last year was unfortunately a road casualty in south-west Ireland in May of this year. More details here .
An early start at the Nursery resulted in a catch of 19 birds which is about par for this time of year. Nothing too unusual but it is reassuring to see that Blackcaps are breeding in good numbers in the wood. The totals were:- Blackcap 9, Chiffchaff 2, Robin 1, Dunnock 3, Blackbird 3 and a single Song Thrush. Thanks to Darren for his help.
Song Thrush juvenile Nursery June 2010 Kevin Sayer
A chilly and very misty morning greeted us at the HHC today. A reasonable catch of 29 birds was made with another Magpie being added to our totals. The counts were Greenfinch 6, Blackbird 4, Dunnock 2, Reed Warbler 6, Reed Bunting 1, Robin 2, Whitethroat 1, Blue Tit 1, Great Tit 5 and a Magpie. Thanks again to Tim for helping me out and for volunteering to ring the Magpie!
Adult Male Reed Bunting HHC June 2010 Kevin Sayer
Adult Male Magpie HHC June 2010 Kevin Sayer
Our first Spring viisit to Solent Meads this year resulted in a reasonable catch with a mixture of both resident and migrants. A total of 27 birds were trapped as follows:- Blackbird 4, Greenfinch 3, Wren 1, Robin 2, Dunnock 4, Whitethroat 2, Reed Warbler 2, Reed Bunting 1, Chiffchaff 2, Great Tit 5 and a single Song Thrush. Thanks to Sean and Tim for lending a hand.
Adult Female Whitethroat Solent Meads May 2010 Kevin Sayer
Ringing Team relaxing after a hectic session Solent Meads Kevin Sayer
A quietish Spring morning at the HHC resulted in another smallish catch with a good number of retraps. However, the undoubted highlight was the capture of my first ever UK Cuckoo. We first saw the bird fly over our heads coming in off the sea and we just assumed it would keep going or possibly end-up in the Wick Reedbed. To our surprise it went into one of our nets and pocketed very nicely. Most Cuckoos will usually bounce out of a mist-net so for this one to stay in is most unusual. The total catch was 20 birds as follows:- 1 Chiffchaff, 6 Greenfinches, 2 Robins, 1 Blue Tit, 6 Reed Warblers, 1 Magpie, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Wood Pigeon and a single Whitethroat.
The Cuckoo is the fifth one that has been caught at CHRS and the first one since 1976.
Second summer male Cuckoo HHC May 2010 Kevin Sayer
Juvenile Robin HHC May 2010 Kevin Sayer
On a cold Spring morning we had a reasonable catch of 28 birds at the HHC. The number of Greenfinches trapped was on the high side but the chilly easterly wind kept the number of migrants down. The totals were:- Lesser Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 2, Whitethroat 3, Reed Warbler 5, Blackbird 3, Song Thrush 1, Greenfinch 12 and a single Wren. The Song Thrush was a retrap and was originally ringed by Wally Evans in Sept 2005.
Adult Lesser Whitethroat HHC May 2010 Kevin Sayer
Adult Willow Warbler HHC May 2010 Kevin Sayer
Adult Male Greenfinch HHC May 2010 Kevin Sayer
Researching some of yesterday's retraps I have un-earthed the following which maybe of interest.
One male Dunnock was originally ringed at the HHC on 11.9.2006 as a juvenile.
Another male, was originally ringed also at the HHC on 18.9.2005 as a juvenile.
A female Reed Warbler now here for at least its third consecutive summer was originally ringed on 23.5.2008 at the HHC.
A female Long-tailed Tit originally ringed at Solent Meads on 27.5.2008 has now moved to the HHC.
Ed Brett has just sent me details of 3 overseas Sedge Warbler recoveries - full details on the Recoveries page.
One of my ringing colleagues has written an excellent article on our recent expedition to Cyprus. Full details here .
My first day's ringing back in Christchuch Harbour for 2010 coincided with the CHOG Members' Day Ringing Demonstration. The forecast was awful but in the end it wasn't too bad a day. In the chilly and damp conditions we managed only 11 birds with just 3 nets - of which 8 were retraps. The total catch was 2 Whitethroats, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Dunnocks, 1 Blackbird, 1 Robin and 2 Long-tailed Tits. Thanks to Tim and Susan for helping me out in trying conditions.
Adult Chiffchaff HHC May 2010 Lorne Bissell
After a winter's season at nearby Blashford Lakes we will soon be returning to Christchurch Harbour to resume our migration studies. Winter work in the Harbour has involved maintenance of our existing net-rides along with the creation of some new ones.
Recently, we have had details of some interesting recoveries and controls. See the recoveries page for further details.
Congratulations go to CHOG Member and Ringer Shaun Robson on recently achieving both his BTO Grade A Ringing Permit and Trainers' Endorsement.