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

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cuckoos at the crane

The crack of dawn really is early but it was at 03:15 that Justin and Paul arrived at our Martham site to put up the nets in anticipation of catching cuckoos that have been heard since end of April. Phil Atkinson and Chris Hewson from the BTO International Research team arrived shortly after. Justin with his trainer Paul Noakes have been helping Phil and Chris with a BTO project to track cuckoo migration by fitting birds with small (5g), satellite transmitter tags. Given that the additional weight that each bird can carry is limited for welfare issues the BTO had already decided that the minimum suitable weight for any cuckoo would be 115g. This limitation meant that more cuckoos needed to be caught to meet the required number of five for the project so Justin suggested that permission was given to catch birds at Martham.

The nets were erected, decoy cuckoo installed and tape lure played and shortly after the first male arrived and promptly perched on some scrub scrutinising the decoy. Fortunately it was at this moment that Tony drove up and the bird took flight straight into the net. A short sprint through long wet grass and the bird was extracted, brought back to the BTO vehicle and weighed by Tony. A smile announced that it was of a suitable weight and after Tony had ringed his first adult cuckoo the BTO team diligently fitted the harness mounted satellite tag.

5M cuckoo fitted with 5g satellite transmitter

Whilst the first bird was being processed another bird found the large mesh nets and Justin returned with a female. Sadly few female cuckoos are above 115g and at 101g this bird was duly ringed and released - a second adult cuckoo for Tony! All was not yet lost for before Phil and Chris had finished fitting the first tag another male had found the catching area and after several agonising minutes Tony was running to the nets to extract it. Justin ringed and weighed the bird and at 118g a second Martham cuckoo would be participating in this important research project.

In total 6 males and 2 females were present in the area with 2 males and a female caught - a good morning!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lound Lakes Demo

Lound Lakes 
On Saturday 14th May we arrived at Lound Lakes for a ringing demonstration, the punters were already there on a dawn chorus walk, they arrived at our ringing station about 6.45am. The net rides had been prepared by Justin  a fortnight previously, Dave and Justin erected the nets on Friday night to save time on Saturday, this enabled us to open up at the leisurely time of 6am. 
The forecast wasn't brilliant, but we managed a good session with no rain. A moderate NW  made it a bit cooler than recent.

Arthur, Dave and Justin are in there somewhere ! Tony is about to release a bird.

We managed to catch 35 birds with 31 new and 4 (retraps), there was a good selection of species and enough birds to keep everyone happy.
 Tea and croissants were supplied by Holly and Claire , Thank you !

Wren; 2
Dunnock; 1 (1) ringed at last years demo on 05/05/2010
Robin; 1 (1) again ringed at demo last year
Blackbird; 2
Song Thrush; 2
Reed Warbler; 7
Whitethroat; 7
Blackcap; 1
Chiffchaff; 1
Blue Tit; 1 (1) ringed as a chick in a nest box on site, 22/05/2010
Great Tit; 3 (1) Another nest box chick, 22/05/2010
Chaffinch; 3

One of the stars !

Also seen were Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher and Hobby with a Water Rail heard only.
Justin informed us that he had found a Snake skin near to one of the rides during the week, this was 2 metres long and had a Python pattern on it !!!!!!! Fortunately we never came across the owner, however we did see a couple of Grass Snakes warming up under a tin sheet.

Looks like it is still digesting a recent meal.

We all saw something today that will go down in ENRG history, you had to be there to believe it ! Some of us still think we were dreaming, but thankfully Arthur has the proof in his pocket.
Dave actually handed over some money, he wasn't happy and didn't want to let go ! Hopefully he will get over it and be able to carry on, it didn't help that after the demo he went on to ring 48 Tit pulli out of his own pocket as well. 

Arthur doing his best to get the cash.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Nest Boxes

On Tuesday evening we Belatedly checked some Owl boxes, we have been waiting for the wind to die down!
7 Tawny Owl type boxes were looked at, which resulted in the following occupants 2 Jackdaws one with 5 eggs the other 5 small chicks, another Tawny Owl with one chick, Stock Dove with 2 eggs, One with a Grey Squirrel ! and the rest empty.

Jackdaw eggs
5 recently hatched Jackdaws, one is hiding !

An adult Stock Dove was caught exiting one box and was a new bird to ring. Gary also managed to net a Squirrel ! but luckily for us escaped before we were bitten extracting it.
At the Tawny box the adult female was caught and proved to be old faithful, a bird that was originally ringed 07/05/2007 and also retrapped 18/04/2009. It was good to see that she is still going strong. Apart from the one chick the box also contained the hind quarters of a baby rabbit that was bigger than the chick!

'Old faithful'

Monday, 2 May 2011

Barn Owl incest

It has been a bad weekend for mist netting, a trip planned for Saturday had to be shelved at 4.30 am, all because of the strong Northerly winds that continue to blow.     
Lapwing pulli were on the agenda for Bank Holiday Monday at Haddiscoe Island, unfortunately due to the dry weather at the moment there are no flashes of water and the grass is too long, so all this has had an adverse effect on the breeding attempts.
There were several pairs seen and a lot of mobbing going on, but no young were seen, only a couple of nests presumably with eggs.
Also as usual several pairs of Redshank, Oystercatcher and a Snipe were seen 'mucking' about, but nothing definite was happening.
 Also on the wader front were several Whimbrel, Bar tailed Godwits and a Common Sandpiper seen but no Avocet.

All sweet and innocent , Mother (right) and Son

The biggest surprise was to come when we checked a Barn Owl box on the Island. Both adults were caught coming out of the box and both were retraps.
On checking the ring numbers it was found that the female was previously ringed as an adult breeding in another box on the Island on 16/05/2009, no big surprise!
But when we checked the males number it was found to be one of the females young from that year, ringed on 11/07/2009 !!!! One egg was in the box,so now the mother is breeding with her own son !!!!!
The female weighed 415 grammes so was in good breeding condition, it will be interesting to see if anything hatches or if they are infertile.

Male wing pattern

Female wing pattern

Another Tawny Owl was checked at Lound and contained 3 pulli ready to ring, all doing well. The female was close by watching us.

Tawny Owls being ringed.

One of the chicks being weighed  

A trip to North Norfolk on Sunday saw plenty of Green Hairstreak on Salthouse Heath amongst the Gorse bushes, always a superb insect !
Green Hairstreak