Caister beach
Welcome to the ENRG blogspot. We hope you enjoy reading about the bird ringing activities and experiences of the group.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Yellow Buntings this time.

We have been feeding an area next to the cover crop at Ludham for a few weeks now with the intention of catching some Yellowhammers.
 22nd December was our third attempt at catching any, the first was a non event when for some reason or another we decided not to fire the net when there were birds in! The second time, the net was set, birds began to arrive and then it sleeted down!

Some of the team with their Yellow Bunt's 

The third time proved much better. Numbers had been building up nicely with estimated counts of 40+ on first trip, 70+ on second trip and a staggering 100 in the area on the third trip, by far the largest number of Yellowhammers any of us had seen in recent times.

Adult male, 1st. Winter Female Yellowhammer's

However, they were proving to be very wary, sitting in nearby hedges most of the time and only coming down briefly to feed in small numbers. Finally after about 3 hours our patience paid off and we managed to catch 14 Yellowhammer and 1 Reed Bunting, all new birds to ring. Since the formation of the group in 2006 we have only ringed 10 Yellowhammer up to this year, so we were well happy with the catch.

Adult (left) and 1st. Winter Yellowhammer tail feathers.

Hopefully we can get another session in soon.
Also in the area were several flocks of Pinkfeet, Fieldfare and Golden Plover going over, 31 Skylark in the adjoining field and a Common Buzzard was hunting over the fields.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bunting bonanza and another Teal session

Snow Bunting numbers at Caister have been fluctuating quite a bit recently.
The mild weather up to a few days ago has seen plenty of people walking on the beach, recent high tides have also played there part in washing the food out on a number of occasions, this all adding up to sporadic appearances by the birds.
Also there seems to be 3 or 4 different groups of birds turning up to feed, but only rarely being there all at the same time. This is why sometimes 10/15 get counted and then later 60 + etc. 
However with the weather turning a lot colder and Gary counting 80 birds we decided to have a go on Saturday (17th December).

'Processing the catch'

The net was set before first light and 3 releases later  we managed to catch 88 Snow Bunting. 
85 new birds, 2 retraps from 12/11/11 and  one from the previous winter 22/01/2011. While we had the birds another 30 turned up, making a grand total of at least 118 birds in the area.
Of the birds raced 57 % were Nivalis, which is quite high as most of the birds that winter here are normally of the Insulae race. Only 4 were aged as adults the rest being 1st winters.
A superb adult female nivalis bird was quite an unusual occurrence for this site. 

Adult female nivalis Snow Bunting.

We have also just received news of a Caister bird  with the aid of Colin's colour rings being reported at Cuxhaven, Germany on 02/12/2011. It was originally ringed at Caister, Norfolk on 12/12/2009 then retrapped at Kessingland, Suffolk on 17/01/2010 (colour ringed ), 30/01/2010 and 13/02/2011.

18th December saw the final duck session of 2011. It was 3 degrees C when we arrived at Hickling, no rain was forecast but as soon as the nets were set it started sleeting! Thankfully it was only short lived. Bird numbers had dwindled slightly with about 40 Teal and 10 Mallard coming over the pond.
 We still managed to catch a respectable total of 5 Teal and 2 Mallard all new birds. The Mallard were the first of the year.

One of the Teal ringed at Hickling on 15/11/2009  was shot just over 2 years later on 19/11/2011 at East Putford, Devon, a movement of 734 days and 453 km. 

Mr and Mrs Mallard.

Also on a nearby pond there was recent evidence that an Otter had been feeding,a small tench was found on the bank with its head eaten away. We have also been informed today that he has been back and had a 2lb Perch from the same pond!

Otter prey.

Friday, 2 December 2011

More Ducking

Sunday 27th November saw 4 group members arriving at Hickling for another duck session.
The normal nets were erected on the same pond as before. Sharon was home in time from a Wash Wader weekend to see and take part in the mad antics of mist netting ducks !

From the left two 1st. Winter male and an adult male Teal, being held by Dave,Sharon and Gary.

About 50/60 Teal were flying around and about a dozen Mallard, again the Mallard came and went early.
Fortunately some of the Teal came down and  we managed a record catch for the site with 23 new birds ringed with only one 'bouncing'. With 10 being females and 13 males.
The first winter males showed quite a variety of plumages, some were almost adult looking while others were just gaining their head pattern, another had no head patterning but had some vermiculated feathers on the back (see below).

Adult Male Teal

Adult male wing

1st Winter male Teal with head pattern just coming through.

Another 1st Winter male Teal showing a few vermiculated feathers.

A Woodcock was seen at dusk over the pond and several Pinkfeet went noisily over in the dark.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Yellow delight.

In balmy conditions we erected some nets in the cover crop at Ludham on Saturday morning. A mixture of single and four shelf nets were put out in anticipation.
Good numbers of finches have been using the mixture of Kale/Quinoa and millet, with up to 100 Chaffinch and good numbers of Linnet/Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer. A few  Song Thrush are also present, we seem to think they are getting Slugs from under the Kale.
27 new birds were ringed, with a retrap Wren and a control Greenfinch making the total up.
Best bird being a Yellowhammer which gave Sharon the opportunity to extend her knowledge to another species.

Sharon and her Yellow delight.

Wren;  2 (1) originally ringed 19/12/2009
Dunnock; 2
Robin; 2
Blackbird; 3
Song Thrush; 3
Blue Tit; 3
Great Tit; 1
Chaffinch; 6
Greenfinch; (1) Control, possibly a bird from the Eccles ringing course.
Yellowhammer; 1
Reed Bunting; 4

Adult female Yellowhammer.

Birds in the area also included a fly over Buzzard being mobbed by a couple of Jackdaws, a flock of 22 Skylark in the neighbouring field and some noisy Pinkfeet across the road.
Sharon also expertly extracted a Migrant Hawker from one of the nets, seems a little late to still be on the wing.    

Monday, 14 November 2011

Winter is here again.

Its that time of year again, Snow Buntings are arriving and ducks are increasing.
The first Snow Bunting turned up at Caister on 6th November a good 2 to 3 weeks later than normal with 8 being present, these quickly increased to about 30 on the  9th and up to 40 on 18th. They soon found the food we are providing much to their liking. With strong southerly winds forecast for Saturday morning we decided to have a go for these instead of mist netting.
We managed a goods catch with 38 new birds, another 4 were flying about managing to evade the net.
All were first Winter's (3) with 21 females and 17 males, it was interesting to find that we had more Nivalis birds than Insulae (18 and 10 respectively , with 10 intermediates. ) No retraps were caught, we always find it incredible that they seem to find the food so easily.

1st. Winter (3) Female Snow Bunting, Insulae race 

1st. Winter Male Snow Bunting, Nivalis race

While we were there several flocks of Brent Geese went past as well as several Gannet, also 3 Shelduck and a lone Red Throated Diver.
2 Grey Seal were also seen offshore. 

On Sunday 13th we ventured to Hickling for a duck session, James had kindly been feeding the pond up and had reported a few duck had arrived and been feeding there. Nets were erected in the normal pattern and we waited patiently, it was quiet at first but then they eventually turned up. About 25 Mallard at first but they were having none of it and proceeded to fly off! Luckily Teal began to arrive and land on the water, using mist nets to catch these is always a bit hit or miss and eventually we managed to catch 8 out of about 100+ flying around! Still a worth while catch and enabling us to increase our knowledge of this species.

Adult Male (4) Teal

1st Winter Male (3) Teal

 Teal tail feathers, all adult type bar two on the  right being juvenile type. 

4 Drakes and 4 ducks were caught, with all bar one being first Winter's
Thanks must go again to James for his enthusiastic support for this project.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Winterton 29th October

Winterton was again the venue on Saturday 29th Oct. It was very slow to start, the woods being very quiet, but it picked up a bit mid morning when the Tit flocks started moving about.
The net in the dunes again produced 5 new Reed Bunting, 21 so far!
 A few more Redpoll were seen with a flock of 25 flying about. We eventually caught 11 more with 2 being controls, L916247 and X157963.

Adult male Lesser Redpoll

It was a busy morning with a few bird watcher's dropping in and seeing what was being caught, this was due to an Isabelline Shrike being present up the road at Horsey.

53 new birds, 12 retraps and 2 controls were caught making a total of 69 birds handled. Retraps in brackets.
Meadow Pipit 1
Wren  2 (1)
Robin 2 (1)
Blackbird 3
Song Thrush 2
Goldcrest 7
Long-tailed Tit 12  (7) with one from 12/09/2009 and 3 from 19/09/2009
Blue Tit 6 (3) one originally ringed 27/09/2008
Great Tit 1 (2)
Chaffinch 3
Lesser Redpoll 9 (2) both controls
Reed Bunting 5 

Woodcock were again present early on when Dave flushed 3 out while opening the nets.
Dave decided to stay a little longer and do a bit more while the rest of us had to go, he was soon on the phone telling us of a Rough legged Buzzard flying over the dunes giving superb views.

On the 6th November a quick walk down Caister North beach produced 8 Snow Bunting  (no ringed birds) feeding on the food, these being the first of the Winter here. Hopefully numbers will build up in the next few weeks. 

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Winterton Ringing

Ringing continues at Winterton this Autumn with mixed catches. The last two Saturdays have produced 74 new and 8 retraps on the 15th and 31 new and 9 retraps on the 22nd. 
The highlight has been  the number of Reed Bunting we have been catching in a net ride of small bushes out in the middle of nowhere, 16 so far this October with no retraps! Also on 22nd an 'Abietinus' race Chiffchaff was caught.  

 1st. Winter (3) female Reed Bunting

                             15th Oct                    22nd Oct  
                                   (Retraps in brackets)
Meadow Pipit          1                                2
Wren                       8 (1)                          5 (2)
                                                                  one from 29/09/2007
Dunnock                 1 (1)
Robin                    12                                1 (1)
Blackbird              13 (2) one ringed as a 1st Winter 30/09/2007
Song Thrush            3                                2
Redwing                                                    1 
Blackcap                 3                                1
Chiffchaff                1                                 2 including 'Abietinus' 
Goldcrest              11                                 3 (3) All recent
Long-tailed Tit        3                                 2
Coal Tit                                                     1

1st Winter (3) Coal Tit 

                            15th Oct                                 22nd Oct
Blue Tit                 2 (2) one from 20/09/2009       2 (1)
Great Tit               6 (1) one ringed 17/09/2006        (2)
Treecreeper          1
Chaffinch              2 (1)  17/10/2010                     1
Bullfinch                1
Siskin                                                                   1  

1st Winter (3) female Siskin 

                             15th Oct                                 22nd Oct
Lesser Redpoll                                                          1
Yellowhammer          1
Reed Bunting            5                                              6

Some interesting tail patterns were seen;

1st. Winter male Blackcap

Quite an assortment ! Reed Bunting

A flock of at least 20 Siskin are present in the area but Redpolls have declined, two of 'our' Redpolls have recently been re trapped at Waxham a journey of 4km. On the morning of the 22nd Tony flushed 3 Woodcock out of the woods while opening the nets.
Common darters are still about and in the sunshine of the 15th both Comma and Red Admiral butterflies were seen sunning themselves.

Little Auk

On Friday 21st  we arrived at the beach car park as normal to erect the nets for the following morning, on returning to the cars we found this unfortunate Little Auk dead! It's breast bone was prominent so we assume it had starved to death.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Winterton again...

Winterton was again the venue for ringing on Saturday 8th October. The nets were erected on the Friday night in 25mph NW 's with the hope it would calm down for the morning. Luckily the wind had eased to a more manageable 12mph Northerly, it was much cooler of late only managing a cool 11 degrees C.
Sadly it seems most of the Lesser Redpolls have moved on, there were however a few Redwing and Song Thrush going over.

'Continental' Song Thrush (3)

A bit of a mixed bag in ringing terms with the Warbler numbers dwindling now, but still Meadow Pipits on the move in the dunes.
40 new birds were ringed and 5 retraps, the highlight being a Yellow-browed Warbler, the first since 2007. Among the retraps was a Chiffchaff that was originally ringed in the Spring on 23rd April 2011, where has this been hiding all this time ?

Goldcrest and Yellow-browed Warbler

Meadow Pipit 4
Wren 1 (1) originally ringed 06/09/2009
Dunnock 1
Robin 1
Song Thrush 1, very grey looking, 'continental' type
Blackcap 1
Yellow-browed Warbler 1
Chiffchaff (1) ringed 23/04/2011 as 1st. summer female (5F)
Goldcrest 4
Long-tailed Tit 8
Blue Tit 6 (2) one ringed 14/09/2008
Great Tit 2
Chaffinch 4
Greenfinch 1
Lesser Redpoll 2
Reed Bunting 3


2 Swallow were seen battling against the wind and another fly-over Grey Wagtail, Siskins and Brambling were seen flying over the tree tops. Common Daters were still on the wing considering the cooler temperatures with a pair seen in tandem.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Redpoll fest.

Saturday 1st October we were again at Winterton, the day started very mild with very light winds, by the time we packed up its was a glorious sunny day with temperature up to 23.5 degrees C.
It was a very good day's ringing with 97 new birds, 1 control and 2 retraps ( both from the previous week).
Redpolls had increased significantly and these produced most of the interest, with 37 Lesser's ( including a Belgium control ) and 1 Common being caught amounting to our best day tally ever.

Both ends of the spectrum.
1st Winter (3) female left and Adult male (4) right, Lesser Redpoll

Belgian (Brussels) ring
Belgian ringed adult male Lesser Redpoll

The catch also included the first Meadow Pipits of the Autumn, there were up to 20 in the area.  Also a late juvenile Bullfinch.

Meadow Pipit 4                                                 
Wren 7 (1)
Dunnock 2
Robin 1
Blackbird 1
Blackcap 4
Chiffchaff 2 (1)
Goldcrest 5
Long-tailed Tit 3
Blue Tit 9
Great Tit 13
Chaffinch 5
Goldfinch 1
Lesser Redpoll 36 (1 Belgian control)
Common Redpoll 1
Bullfinch 1
Reed Bunting 2 

The Common Redpoll was only the second we have caught at Winterton. The first one was ringed 14 November 1995, it's been a long wait !

1st. Winter (3) Common (left) and Lesser (right) Redpolls

1st. Winter (3) Common (left) and Lesser (right) Redpolls

Juvenile (3) male Bullfinch

Other birds seen on the day included 2 Brambling, a fly-over Grey Wagtail and several Pink feet.
Common Darters were still very much in evidence and a Small Copper butterfly was seen. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


It was a 'bootiful' morning on Saturday, hardly a breath of wind and very mild temperatures. Mist netting was cut short as the sun came up and lit the nets up, it was a pleasant 21 degrees when we packed up.
Birds were a bit thin on the ground , with no obvious ' vis mig' going on.
34 new birds were ringed and for the second time this Autumn no retraps were caught, where have all the local birds gone ?
 The first Goldcrests and Lesser Redpolls of the Autumn were caught.

1st. year Male Goldcrest

Wren 2
Dunnock 2
Robin 2
Blackcap 5, All with good fat reserves.
Chiffchaff 4
Goldcrest 3
Blue Tit 2
Treecreeper 3, unusual to catch  3 in a day at this site
Chaffinch 1
Lesser Redpoll 10, A flock of 18 were flying around.

1st. year Male Lesser Redpoll

Several Common Darters were seen bathing in the sunshine as well as a few Red Admiral.

Common Darter

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Swallow Roost

At last the wind abated to give us an opportunity to try a Swallow roost at Martham Pits. 
Dave had checked the site on Wednesday night and had 70 to 100 birds go in, with this in mind we assembled on Thursday evening with fingers crossed hoping some would hang around.
It was fairly quiet at first with about 20 flying around the pits.The nets were checked early on in case anything had gone in unnoticed, 3 Reed Warblers and a Cettis were extracted.
 As the evening progressed the Swallows began to arrive, with about 70 flying about at one point.These were flying quite high and seemed to fly off East to roost somewhere else!
As we approached the nets the usual mutterings were said, ' no birds again',' why didn't they come down', ' should have been here last night ' .... etc. 
Luckily some had stayed and were ready to be extracted from the nets.

Adult male Swallow

In the end 37 Swallow were ringed with 23 1st year birds, 7 adult males and 7 adult females.
Also 3 Reed Warblers and a Cettis Warbler were newly ringed.

We went back to the comfort of Tony's to do the ringing and he also kindly supplied the refreshments.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Chiff's on the move.

We arrived at Winterton just after dawn on Saturday 10th Sept, conditions were very muggy, complete cloud cover and a light SW getting fresher as the morning wore on, by the time we packed up it was a nice 21 degrees C.
As the nets were erected 2 or 3 Chiff's were heard calling, but not much else. Luckily we were in for a few more than that.  It was a good morning for Chiff's and Blackcaps with the added bonus of a juv Spotfly.

The first full grown Spotted Flycatcher we have ringed since 2001!

45 new birds were ringed, amazingly no retraps were caught.
Wren 1
Dunnock 1
Robin 2
Blackbird 1
Whitethroat 1, A late moulting adult.
Blackcap 13 ,  10 Males and 3 Females.  All juveniles apart from one.
Chiffchaff 17, 2 adults the rest juveniles.
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Long-tailed Tit 2
Blue Tit 4
Great Tit 1
Bullfinch 1, an adult female still with a brood patch.

Dave and friend.

A Swift was seen flying over and a Marsh Harrier flew South down the dunes.
Several Speckled Wood butterflies were still on the wing with numerous Common Darter's about, including the male that took a liking to Dave's hat! A Migrant Hawker was also seen.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Haddiscoe Island 2011

On Saturday evening Dave and Justin went to check out our reed bed ringing site on Haddiscoe Island. Rides were cut, nets erected and birds were caught. After ringing the small catch before darkness descended the team left well bitten by an army of mosquitos and midges.

Dave and Justin returned to the Haddiscoe Island reed bed to open the nets early on Sunday morning.

Birds quickly responded to the tape lures and Bearded Tits were soon heard 'pinging' around the net rides. The first round, however, consisted of juvenile Reed and Sedge Warblers with the Bearded Tits finding the nets later on. Most birds caught were juveniles but a few adults were nice to see including a fantastic male Bearded Tit.

Male Bearded Tits - Juv (left), Adult (right)

One juvenile Reed Warbler had a particularly warm rump and an unusually light eyes for a juv but any dreams of Blyth's were quickly dispelled with only the third primary being emarginated.

Juvenile Reed Warbler

Dave had a pleasant surprise when he pulled a juvenile Starling from the last bird bag of one round. Justin had seen a flock fly over the reed bed and finding two in a net he managed to extract them before Dave came along ensuring that their identity remained a secret. Both birds were juveniles in post-juvenile moult with one already having much greener feathers suggesting a probable male.

Juvenile Starlings

Despite the gusting wind it was a good catch with 62 new birds being trapped and 1 re-trap Reed Warbler having been originally ringed at the site in August 2007.

Sedge Warbler - 17
Reed Warbler - 26 (1)
Bearded Tit - 15
Starling - 2
Reed Bunting - 2

Saturday, 30 July 2011

House Martin 'RASing'

Over the last couple of weeks due to work commitments and the weather the only ringing we have managed has involved House Martins during some evenings.
Three sites have been visited, a new site at Hickling, with Horning Hall and Waxham being revisited for the second time this year.
The new site at Hickling involved 7 houses with an estimated 35 occupied nests, Dave had done the hard work and managed to get permission from all 7. 
21 new House Martins were caught together with a male House Sparrow that baled out of one of the nests.

Sharon explaining the niceties of flat flies!

At Horning Hall 19 were caught with 7 new and 12 retraps, these consisted of one from 2009 and 2010 and surprisingly one originally ringed on 31/07/2007.  This is our oldest House Martin to date.
Also the Barn Owl has produced 2 chicks, the Spot Fly is having a second brood in another box nearby and contains 3 eggs.
Also seen here on the river were 2 juvenile Bar Headed Geese! Soon to be a new feral species?

Juvenile House Martin.

The second trip of the year to Waxham Great Barn proved a success with 38 being caught, 29 of which were new and 16 of these being juveniles. 5 of the 9 retraps were last years' birds.
For a brief spell Sharon equalled the record of 6 being caught at once but was eventually beaten by Gary later on in the evening when he netted 7!

Sharon and her half dozen, Dave thinking I've got to get this lot out!

This brings the grand total so far this year of 125 new birds, 30 retraps and 1 control.

On a more serious note, is this what Gary and Kev get up to in their spare time? No wonder ringing has been slack the last few weeks. 

Perhaps Kate can enlighten us.