About Me

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Canna, Highland, United Kingdom
This blog has been set up to keep people who are interested in wild bird ringing informed about my ringing activities both locally and further afield.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Last few nests...

I've still got a few nests on the go here in West Cambridgeshire, and generally it seems to have been a pretty good year, despite a lot of predation early on.

I've ringed a couple of broods of Spotted Flycatcher, and have another on the go with a 2nd brood (3 eggs at present).

With my trainer I've also had a short mist-netting session in the garden. This produced a batch of Great Tits, mainly 3Js, plus a 4 female. One of the 3Js was a retrap, from a nest box about 2km away, and was ringed in mid May, so it's nice to see that they're moving around a bit, and still surviving!

We also got one of the juvvie Great Spotted Woodpeckers, which I was particularly pleased with.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Got quite a few nests on the go here in West Cambridgeshire. There are already been successful robins, song thrushes, and blackbirds fledging, and over the last couple of days I've ringed pulli from a number of other nests, including lapwing, blackcap (above), chaffinch, song thrush, blue tit, and great tit.


Friday, 30 April 2010


Robin chicks in a pampas grass nest

As part of the BTO Nest Recording Scheme I have been monitoring a number of nests in West Cambridgeshire.

Indications are that some early nesting species, such as song thrush and blackbird, suffered heavy predation with their first nesting attempts, probably due to the lack of foliage on the trees - all the early nests I found were incredibly exposed, including one song thrush nest that I first spotted from 20 metres away!

Things seem more settled now, and I have a further 4 song thrush nests, a blackbird nest, three chaffinch nests, a robin nest, a mallard nest, and a blackcap nest all currently being monitored, and that's not to mention all the blue/great tits using the boxes that I have scattered throughout the woods here.

Today I also ringed the first pulli of the season - five robin chicks all at the FS stage, in a nest in the side of a pampas grass clump.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

A move to woodlands!

I've recently moved house to a private estate near St Neots, and have been busy putting up nest boxes in the mixed oak, ash, hornbeam, and beech woods that surround our house.

Also, my trainer came round last saturday to put up a couple of nets in our back garden, with the hope being that some of the more interesting species that have been hanging around (marsh tit, goldcrest, nuthatch, treecreeper, common buzzard!) might happen to fly through. No such luck. In just under 2 hours, the 2 nets caught 20 birds, made up of 12 GRETI, and 8 BLUTI. Still, you've got to start somewhere!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Wild Weekend

Had planned a busy bird ringing weekend. I was going to check out a Reed Bunting flock at the Manderson Trust Fishery this morning (there are around 30 birds present there, plus a few Yellowhammers), but pouring rain stopped play.

At about 9.30 the rain had stopped, so my Trainer, Ian, came round, and we put up a couple of mist nets in the garden instead. Not particularly productive, but we did get:

Blackbird 1 (+3 retraps)
Starling 1
Great Tit 2 (+ 2 retraps)
Chaffinch 1
Dunnock (1 retrap)

The Starling was definitely the star bird. A lovely male (5).

Hopefully get out to the Fishery later in the week to have a look at those buntings!

Ian and I had also planned to join the Wash Wader Ringing Group on a Cannon Net catch at Snettisham early tomorrow (Sunday) morning, but the forecast is not good, so that's been cancelled. A real shame, but that's the nature of studying wild bird populations!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Nesting Birds

I've had a couple of reports during the last week or so of nesting birds in the village. At least two people have told me about collared doves on eggs (no surprises there then!), while woodpigeons seem to be getting frisky too!

Things on the nesting front will be hotting up in the coming weeks, so drop me a line if you know of any nesting birds in or around Over village.




Friday, 22 January 2010

Over Nests...

Nest Recording in Over

On Wednesday night I gave a short talk to the Over Gardening Club about my (varied) work, and this inevitably turned to a discussion about bird ringing.

It looks like there is a lot of interest from villagers about this, and I will be sending out fliers to everyone in the village to ask if you have nest boxes in your garden that I could monitor throughout ther summer.

These starling chicks were in a nest box in Knapwell last summer

I'd also be interested in hearing of any open-nests you find (i.e. nests that aren't in boxes), as these provide very valuable data too. These might include species such as blackbird, song thrush, robin, dunnock, swallow, meadow pipit, skylark, linnet, whitethroat, and many more, so once the breeding season starts in March, keep your eyes (and ears) open!

Anyone who is interested in taking part can contact me on grahambirdringer@btinternet.com

Monday, 11 January 2010


A cold morning out at farm just south of the A14. My first experience of whoosh netting. We set the net in an area of stubble that had been baited with grain, and within half an hour had upwards of 100 yellowhammers milling around.

They were obviously not that keen to go in front of the net though, but we did manage an initial catch of 13 birds, mainly aged 5 (BTO code for hatched previous year). A second catch was more disappointing, with just 1 more yellowhammer, and a single male blackbird.


Friday, 8 January 2010

Ring Reading

Too much snow out there to ring at the moment, so I'm spending a bit (too much!) time scanning the birds in my garden with a telescope to check for rings.

We have at least 13 blackbirds coming in to feed on the apples we put out on the lawn, and some of these are ringed.

LB78905 was ringed as an adult female on 23.10.09, and is still present, while LB78908 was ringed as a juvenile male on 20.12.09, and he still seems to be trying to hold a territory, despite all the other incomers!

Hoping to get out with my trainer and his wife to catch a large flock of corn bunting over the weekend, and I'm keeping an eye on an orchard site near Haddenham where 3000+ fieldfare have been feeding recently.

I'll keep you informed!


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

6th January 2010

Bird Ringing in Over Village 2010

The main reason I wanted to start bird ringing in Over where I live is to contribute to the scientific data held by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) on bird populations, breeding success, and migration.

My aim is to establish regular ringing sites around the village, and this is something that everyone in the village can become involved in. However, it is important to note that it is illegal to catch wild birds for ringing purposes without a permit issued by the BTO.

I have a number of different projects that I would like to set up in the village, as follows:

Nest-box recording and pulli (chick) ringing.

One of the most important ways we can contribute to our knowledge of bird breeding behaviour is to monitor nests and nest boxes. The BTO run the Nest Recording Scheme, which involves people in making a number of visits to birds nests during the breeding season to record what is happening. Obviously this needs to be done with great care.

I have a few nest boxes in my own garden, and already submit data on the breeding behaviour of the birds present to the BTO. In 2010 I would like to extend this to include other bird nest boxes within the village. I am sure lots of people will have nest boxes in their gardens, and may be interested in my paying a couple of visits during the summer to monitor what is happening in their nest boxes, and also to ring any chicks. Birds ringed as chicks provide very valuable data, as the exact age of the individual bird is know, as well as where it hatched.

House Sparrow Colour Ringing.

The common House Sparrow is in decline in Britain, although there are still good numbers present in Over and the surrounding villages.
I am interested in building up a database of house sparrow breeding successes, movements, etc. throughout Over, and to do this would like to colour-ring birds as chicks. This involves placing the normal BTO metal ring onto the bird, but also putting small, coloured, plastic rings onto the legs of each bird too. In order to study bird movements using only a metal ring, you have to re-catch the bird to see what the ring number is, whereas by placing colour-rings on birds in combinations unique to the individual bird, it is possible to monitor movements just by sighting birds and making a note of the colour ring combinations. Through this scheme (which has yet to be approved by the BTO) all villagers will be able to add to the database by making notes of the house sparrows seen in the village, and the colour ring combinations of each individual.


I also intend to continue catching adult birds using mist-nets. Initially this will be done only in my own garden, but ideally I would like to do this at a number of sites around the village. There are a number of old orchards that would be ideal for mist-netting, and some of the larger gardens would also be useful for this.

20th December 2009


Snow overnight brought a lot more birds onto the feeders in the garden, so an afternoon ringing session was put together at the last minute. All in all a pretty good catch of birds, including some retraps (birds previously caught in my garden and caught again):

Species, New, Retraps:

Robin, 4, 0
Dunnock, 2, 4
Blue Tit, 10, 2
Great Tit, 2, 0
Wren, 1, 0
Blackbird, 6, 2

23rd October 2009

A few more...

Another short garden ringing session today produced the following new birds:

Chaffinch (1)
Great Tit (2)
Dunnock (1)
Robin (1)
Blackbird (1)

16th October 2009

Bird ringing starts in Over, Cambs!

Today we started a small study of the wild bird populations in Over. This involved putting up mist nets in my garden to catch adult birds. Each bird was then weighed, and measurements were taken of wing length, fat scores, and pectoral muscle scores. A metal ring is then fitted to each bird, giving it a unique number.

All ringing is done under licence through the British Trist for Ornithology, and ringers are all trained over a number of years in catching, and ringing birds.

During a two hour ringing session we caught and ringed the following:

Dunnock (7)
Robin (2)
Blackbird (3)
Woodpigeon (1)
Chaffinch (2)
Blue Tit (3)
Great Tit (4)