A summary of Bird Ringing at Fieldfare Hide 2017 – By Chris Hughes


Due to a variety of factors, only four ringing sessions were undertaken at the site in 2017 although all proved to be productive in terms of numbers of birds processed. They also included a few surprises. At each session only a limited number of nets were set so the numbers of birds breeding here or moving through can only be guessed at. More often than not, I am not aware of large numbers of birds around yet they are there, as evidenced by the numbers caught. The numbers of passerines alone using the reserve must run into tens of thousands and as ringers, we only sample but a small proportion. The data we collect and submit to the BTO is vital and informs conservation strategies both locally and nationally.

A newly fledged Reed Bunting

The following notes are from the reports I submit to the reserve following each session together with brief comments. Ringing sessions held were:

28 May 2017 – 63 new birds, 36 retraps – Total birds – 99
A breezy morning with a clear sky and sunny from around 0600 hours. 18 different species caught this morning with double figures for Dunnock, Blackbird, Sedge and Garden Warbler and Chiffchaff. Highest individual species’ total was Garden Warbler with 7 new birds ringed and 7 retraps. Juvenile Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Long tailed Tit and a very recently fledged Reed Bunting were all ringed. Most surprising species caught were a Jay caught in a net on the north side of the hide (another one in the net at the same time ‘walked’ along the net and made a swift exit) and a male Grasshopper Warbler, heard reeling on the south side and who duly obliged by dropping into a net at 0530 – the first at this site since a pair was ringed in May 2013 Less surprising was a female Cetti’s Warbler, no doubt responding to a male who had been blasting away all morning from deep in the undergrowth. He was retrapped too having been ringed at the site in September 2016. The oldest retrap was a male Bullfinch, ringed on 22 August 2013 and retrapped each year since and of those ringed in 2014, the most notable were a Robin retrapped for the 8th time and a Sedge Warbler for the 6th. Other species retrapped from 2014 were Blackbird (5 of the 51 ringed that year) and Long tailed Tit. Survivors ringed in 2015 and retrapped in 2017 were Dunnock, Blackbird, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Bullfinch.
It never ceases to amaze me how migrants ringed here manage to return year after year to exactly the same site and it is always a special moment when you recognise on of ‘your’ rings on a bird that you know has travelled many thousands of miles from sub-Saharan Africa to be back again.

2 July 2017 – 59 new birds, 30 retraps – Total birds 89

A blustery morning. Strong sunshine by 0500 then dull from 0845. Juveniles of additional species to those ringed earlier in the year were Wren, Cetti’s, Sedge, Garden and Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Blue and Great Tit. A female Goldfinch with a well developed brood patch was also ringed. Notable retraps were a Blackbird and Garden Warbler, both ringed in 2013 and Dunnock, Sedge Warbler and Long tailed Tit from 2015. A Willow Warbler in wing moult was ringed and a male and female Blue Tit, both in post breeding moult and both Rutland birds (but not ringed at this site) were retrapped.

8 July 2017 – 60 new birds, 23 retraps – Total birds 83

Breezy on arrival on site around 0300 and sunny plus a breeze by 0645. Highlights were 7 juvenile Blackbirds and 6 juvenile Sedge Warblers ringed plus another juvenile Cetti’s Warbler. 3 Blackbirds ringed in 2014 were retrapped and pair of Bullfinches, ringed in 2015 were also retrapped.
4 October 2017 – 89 new birds, 20 retraps – Total 109 birds
Another dull, breezy morning with stronger gusts from around 0900. A memorable morning for two species in particular. 19 juvenile Blackcaps were ringed, almost all with layers of a fat stored to fuel their migration. Weights will always vary with a summer weight of around 15 – 17g but many of those caught this morning weighed 20g or over with one weighing in at 24g. Their numbers were only surpassed by Blue Tits with one adult and 27 juveniles caught. 5 juvenile Great Tits were also ringed. A surprise species was a small party of Lesser Redpolls (1 adult, 5 juveniles), all in a net together and the first I’d caught at the site.

A total of 380 birds were caught this year – see table below. It is difficult, given the amount of ringer effort available this year to draw any comparisons but in the previous four years’ ringing at the site 92 Whitethroat had been ringed – but only 2 this year – and 85 Great Tit had been ringed with just 6 this year. On a more positive note, the number of Cetti’s Warbler ringed was doubled from 3 to 6! Lesser Redpoll was a new species and the Jay, caught in May was only the second to be ringed here. Often heard with their raucous call, they are more likely to be seen in the adjacent woodland.


Two birds ringed at the site were recovered elsewhere. These were:
Chiffchaff – ring number HXV 167 – ringed as a juvenile on 8 September 2016 and found freshly dead on 20 March 2017 at Lochore, Ballingry, Fife, Scotland, 183 days after being ringed a distance of 183km. Was this a Scottish juvenile, ringed at Rutland on migration, returning to its natal area?
Blackcap – ring number S333385 – ringed as a juvenile on 8 July 2017 and weighing 15.5g. It was controlled by Stanford Ringing Group at Stanford Reservoir, Northants on 2 September 2017, 56 days and 40km after being ringed. The bird had increased its weight to 17.3g on recapture.

Garden Warbler
Ring number D457072 – ringed as an adult male on 6 June 2013 and retrapped on 27 June 2013, 29 April and 11 June 2014 and 2 July 2017. This bird was at least 5 years old when last retrapped. It will have over-wintered in Africa and as a trans-Saharan migrant will have covered many thousands of miles on migration alone.
Ring number D457854 – ringed as a juvenile on 6 July 2013 and retrapped (now an adult female) on 31 May and 6 September 2014 and 8 July 2017.
Ring number D457891 – ringed as a juvenile on 22 August 2013 and retrapped on 1 April and 16 May 2014, 20 June 2016 and 28 May 2017. Not sexed as a juvenile, on retrap it was sexed as a male.
Ring number LE70506 – ringed as an adult female on 6 July 2013 and retrapped on 3 May and 23 August 2014, 4 May 2016 and 2 July and 4 October 2017.
Ring number LE70512 – ringed as an adult female on 29 April 2014 and retrapped on 3 and 16 May 2014 then 3 years later on 28 May and 8 July 2017.
Ring number LE70542 – ringed as an adult on 4 August 2014 and retrapped on 28 May and 8 July 2017. The May date was the first retrap of this individual since being ringed.
Ring number LE70546 – ringed as an adult male on 23 August 2014 and retrapped on 7 June 2015 and then almost two years later on 28 May 2017.
Ring number LE70552 – ringed as an adult male on 10 September 2014 and retrapped on 23 May 2015 and 2 July 2017
Ring number LE70558 – ringed as a juvenile male on 13 September 2014 and retrapped on 9 August and 21 September 2016 and then on 28 May 2017.
Ring number LE70559 – ringed as a juvenile on 18 September 2014 and retrapped on 31 July 2015 and 8 July 2017.
Long tailed Tit
Ring number HBK106 – ringed as a juvenile on 31 May 2014 and retrapped on 20 September and 17 October 2014, 4 May, 25 June and 6 September 2016 and 28 May 2017. 29 juvenile Long tailed Tits were ringed on that May morning in 2014.
Ring number HBK285 – ringed (unaged) on 18 September 2014 and retrapped on 4 May 2016 and 28 May and 4 October 2017.
Sedge Warbler
Ring number D595073 – ringed as a juvenile on 11 June 2014 and retrapped on 19 and 25 June 2014, 23 May and 7 June 2015, 4 May 2016 and 28 May 2017. A good example of a juvenile showing faithfulness to its natal site. He was retrapped as a breeding male. Another long distance migrant wintering south of the Sahara (from Senegal, east to Ethiopia and south to Northern Namibia and South Africa) who has made that journey to and from the same site at Rutland Water for 3 years.
Ring number D917601 – ringed as a juvenile on 4 September 2014 and retrapped on 13 and 22 September and 17 October 2014, 11 August 2015, 19 April, 4 May and 21 September 2016 and 28 May 2017. With 8 retraps, this female is the most often handled bird at the site. When last retrapped she had a well developed brood patch so is clearly a local breeding bird.


Species retrapped were: – Garden and Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Dunnock, Bullfinch, Long tailed and Great Tit.
Species retrapped were:- Garden and Sedge and Cetti’s Warbler, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin, Blue, Long tailed and Great Tit.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to ring at this splendid site and to have the opportunity to handle so many birds. I am constantly in admiration of them and still marvel at their ability to adapt and survive. Long may they continue to do so.
I am particularly grateful to Lloyd Park for his work in keeping the net rides cut back to enable me to set some nets. Much appreciated.

Chris Hughes
February 2018