Fieldfare Site (known officially as Lax Hill, Subsite – Behind Fieldfare Hide) has been more actively ringed since 2013, when 565 birds of 28 species were processed. 2014 proved to be a bumper year with 1805 birds of 28 species processed, 451 of which were Blackcap.
Nets are set at a variety of rides on both the north and south sides of the hide. There are 16 rides but generally these are not all used together unless there is a ringing demonstration and a strong ringing team is available.
The site is used for ad hoc – but still scientifically valuable- ringing and is also used for training and at least annually for public ringing demonstrations. It has enormous potential and is clearly suitable to be operated as one of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Constant Effort Sites (CES) but with two already operating elsewhere at Rutland Water, this site is useful as a stand alone site, outwith any of the timing constraints imposed by the CES scheme. It is therefore valuable in its own right due to its flexibility. For example, should the Ringing Group wish to ring on consecutive days here in the summer it could do so – subject to the usual bird welfare issues – whereas with a CES, that would not be possible.
The lead ringer at this site is Chris Hughes and trainees using the site since 2013 include Michelle Househam, Sam Pitt-Miller, Sarah Merriman, Amelia Woolford and Gary Carter.
A REVIEW OF 2015
Following a bumper ringing year in 2014, when over 1800 birds were processed at the site, 2015 proved to be a somewhat less active year. Only 7 visits were made to the site and these are detailed below. However, 559 birds of 25 species were processed including, as ever, a few surprises in the shape of Siskin and Marsh Tit, neither of which is regularly recorded here.
The sessions were:
23 May 2015 – 39 new, 28 retraps – Total 67 birds of 19 species
A good day for warbler species with Sedge, Reed and Garden Warbler plus Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff all ringed. Juvenile Dunnock were also ringed. Cuckoos were calling from early morning and at precisely 0458 hours an Otter was seen ambling along the track on the south side between rides before darting off into the water – a ringing bonus!
7 June 2015 – 40 new, 34 retraps – Total 74 birds of 20 species
A few more young around with juvenile Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird all ringed. A Marsh Tit was a surprise catch and 6 of the 8 Bullfinches ringed were all in the same net together at 0800 hours. One female weighed in at a hefty 28.1g, around 6g over the usual weight and clearly in breeding mode.
31 July 2015 – 123 new, 22 retraps, 1 control – Total 146 birds of 18 species
My notes record a clear, cool morning on arrival at 0300 hours. A morning of ringing juveniles with only Cetti’s Warbler and Goldfinch being adults only. 30 of the juvs were Blackcap and the controlled bird was a Garden Warbler.
11 August 2015 – 85 new, 21 retraps – Total 106 birds of 19 species
Another flush of juveniles including a quartet of Reed Warblers, a species not frequently caught at this site. I noted that one of the juvenile Willow Warblers was strikingly yellow and two each of juvenile Goldcrest and Treecreepers added variety.
19 September 2015 – 70 new, 13 retraps, 1 control – 84 birds of 17 species
A well attended public ringing demonstration with a strong team and a full set of nets open. Some interesting fat deposition and moult was recorded and gave the ringers chance to discuss this with visitors. Perhaps most notable were a juvenile Reed Warbler weighing in at 14.2g and a hefty juvenile Garden Warbler at 29.3g both leaving little doubt as to which direction they were heading next. The general concensus was that visitors both enjoyed themselves seeing and releasing the birds (under supervision) and found the more technical aspects of ringing interesting and informative. Of the 70 birds ringed 30 were Blackcap and the bonus species for the day being Siskin. A juvenile male Blackcap was also controlled.
20 September 2015 – 30 new, 11 retraps – 41 birds of 11 species
A short session with another 17 Blackcap ringed.
26 September 2015 – 24 ringed, 17 retraps – 41 birds of 10 species
9 more Blackcap ringed making a total of 52 in 7 days. Although this is a good total, to put this in context, 294 Blackcap were ringed at the site between 4 and 22 September 2014 when enormous numbers of the species were ringed across mid and southern England as they moved out of the country. A further 2 Siskins were the first the author had ringed in the UK since 1993!
Siskin was the only ‘new’ species for the site since 2013. Species previously caught here but not in 2015 were: Barn Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grasshopper Warbler, Jay, Greenfinch, Stock Dove, Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit and Redwing.
BIRDS PROCESSED AT THE SITE – 2015
2 birds ringed at the site and caught elsewhere were reported by the BTO in 2015. These were:
Sedge Warbler – Ring number D595067
Ringed as an adult male on 11 June 2014, he was controlled (caught by another ringer more than 5k from its original site) at Marston Sewage Works, Lincolnshire on 12 August 2015 – 427 days after being ringed and 36 km distance. It would have spent its winter in sub-Saharan Africa.
Chiffchaff – Ring number HPR554
Ringed as a juvenile on 31 July 2015 and controlled at Stanford Reservoir, Northants on 9 September 2015 – 40 days and 39 km distance.
2 birds ringed elsewhere were controlled at this site. These were:
Garden Warbler – Ring number Z382700
Ringed as an adult female on 11 July 2015 at Holme Pierrepont, Notts and controlled at Fieldfare Hide on 31 July 2015 – 20 days and 43 km distance.
Blackcap – Ring number Z373813
Ringed as a juvenile male on 2 September 2015 at Park Farm, Stow Bardolph, Norfolk and controlled at Fieldfare Hide on 19 September 2015 – 17 days and 76 km distance.
Ringers operating at this site in 2015 were Chris Hughes, Sam Pitt-Miller, Amelia Woolford, Gary Carter, Peter Robinson and Candice Barker. Ringers from previous years are Lloyd Park, Garry Barker, Dave Hill, Sarah Merriman and Michelle Househam. My thanks to them all.
It is hoped that the site will continue to support the ringing effort at Rutland Water. It offers a range of habitats and potential net rides and, on a spring morning with the air filled with the dawn chorus, is a magical place.