19th – 30th August – various ringing activities.   Leave a comment

With the weather remaining largely settled and with autumn migration in full flow it made sense to spend as much time as possible over the last two weeks at our ringing sites.

Over the last two weeks I have been out ringing as follows:

19th Durlston, 20th Fleets Lane, 21st Fleets Lane, 22nd Durlston, 23rd Lytchett Bay, 25th Durlston, 27th Durlston, 28th Durlston, 30th Lytchett Bay, 31st intend to go to Durlston. As each session involves getting up between 0430 and 0500, the 24th, 26th and 29th involved well earned lie ins and catching up on other activities.

The ringing of (mainly) young birds in the autumn is important as a measure of the annual productivity and also sheds light on the movements and dispersal of birds in their first season. Ringing has shown that many adult birds migrate earlier than their offspring and move directly from their breeding to their wintering sites, so are less likely to be trapped at our coastal migration site at Durlston. On the other hand we have ringed many adult and young birds at Fleets Lane in Poole, many of the former are in full wing moult prior to migration, something we don’t see often at Durlston.

Of course ringing is all about discovering more about the population structure, life history and the movements of birds. Information on the former is obtained by statistical analysis and the results are not always immediately apparent to those in the field, however we regularly get retraps of birds we have previously ringed, for example the adult Green Woodpecker shown below was ringed in 2011 at the same site and from time to time we catch birds that others have ringed. We have have had five of these so called ‘controls’ during the last fortnight and eagerly await details of their origins. In addition we have recently been informed the BTO of a few recoveries, the best being a Cetti’s Warbler (a supposedly resident species) that moved from Lytchett to Norfolk and a Chiffchaff from Durlston to near Madrid.

Here is a selection of photos from the above sessions.

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Our site at the ‘goat plots’ at Durlston is more sheltered in a brisk northerly, however birds move through very quickly and its all over within an hour of dawn.


Back in the ‘garden’ Mick and Mike try ‘flicking’ for Swallows, that is swinging a net into the path of Swallows that are drinking at the pond. Although an accepted technique they had zero success!


The best day of the last fortnight was the 27th at Durlston when we ringed 114 birds of 20 species. There were surprisingly large numbers of Tree Pipits about, we had at least 50 over the ringing station, whilst Hamish Murray recorded 75+ elsewhere in the park (some duplication may have occurred). We managed to ring a dozen of them, our best day ever for this regular, yet tricky to see well, trans-Saharan migrant.

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On the 27th we also ringed our only Pied Flycatcher of the year. The shape of the white fringe on the tertials allows this bird to aged as a first year.

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We don’t catch many flycatchers at our usual site as the nearby trees are too tall, so this Spotted Flycatcher was, like it’s black and white cousin, the first of the year.


This was our 14th Common Redstart to be ringed this year. We haven’t had any recoveries/controls of this scarce migrant but it is likely that our birds originate in the sessile oak forests of Wales or south-western Scotland.

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Common Whitethroats live up to their name at Durlston, being a regular breeder in some numbers. We have retrapped quite a number of birds over consecutive summers, showing site fidelity. The pale eye and (not visible in this shot) white rather than buff edges to the outer tail feathers show it to be an adult and the grey head indicates it is a male.


This juvenile Yellowhammer is quite unlike an adult, showing little more than a yellow tinge to the plumage.The white spot on the ear coverts becomes yellow in an adult female/winter male.

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The lack of red in the centre of the black moustache shows that this Green Woodpecker is a female.

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Two days later we caught her offspring. As in the adult bird above, the tail has been pressed against the ringers hand for support as if it was climbing a tree trunk.


This juvenile Treecreeper was an unusual catch at Lytchett Bay.


At Fleets Lane this male Sparrowhawk was an interesting capture. The yellow eye (orange in an adult), and active moult of the flight feathers whilst retaining some brown fringed juvenile feathers allowed us to confidently age it as a second year bird.


This juvenile Greenfinch has a large parasitic tick on its head.


This bird was a valuable object lesson to one of our trainees. The definitive way to separate Chiffchaff from Willow Warbler in the hand is the emargination (narrowing of the outer web towards the tip) of the 6th primary (counting downwards, ie ascendantly, and with the first primary being vestigial and hardly visible). This moulting adult appears to have a fresh 6th primary emerging from the sheath that is not emarginated making it a Willow. But it looked overall like a Chiff and the 3rd, 4th and 5th primary are of similar length, again typical of a Chiff. Close examination showed the 6th to be absent and the emergent feather was in fact the 7th primary, confirming it as a Chiff after all.

Posted August 30, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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