A Summary of Bird Ringing at Fieldfare Hide 2018 by Chris Hughes

Due to family illness only 5 ringing sessions were held at the site in 2018 with 309 birds processed. Details are shown below. The most unusual bird caught was a juvenile Barred Warbler, trapped on 31 August.
Session reports

Juvenile Barred Warbler – 31 August 2018 (photo: Chris Hughes)

20 April 2018 – 38 ringed, 11 retraps – total birds 49
A sunny, warm morning with a gentle breeze. 8 nets in use and the first bird of the year to be caught was a retrapped Lesser Whitethroat, ringed in 2015 and caught each year since. 12 Blackcaps were ringed – 6 male and 6 female – and 4 male and 1 female Reed Bunting were also ringed. In addition a Blue Tit, ringed as a juvenile on 12 September 2013 was retrapped.

7 May 2018 – 27 ringed, 26 retraps – total birds 53
A misty start followed by a warm, sunny and calm morning. A very pleasant dawn chorus was noted and at 06.30 a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming. A Cuckoo was noted an hour later. A Lesser Whitethroat, ringed as an adult male on 4 May 2016 was retrapped for the first time and a Whitethroat, ringed as an adult male on 23 May 2015 and retrapped a month later was also retrapped again after a gap of almost 3 years between recaptures.

5 August 2018 – 51 ringed, 1 retrap – total birds 52
A cool start to the morning, overcast from around 09.00 with a strengthening breeze. Only 5 nets used. All birds caught were juveniles (22 Blackcaps) apart from an adult Lesser Whitethroat in post breeding moult.
Two muntjac deer were noted on site and a weasel scampered across the path to the hide.

31 August – 36 ringed, 2 retraps – total 38 birds
A memorable session in sunny weather with a slight breeze. 5 nets set from around midday targeting the movement of Blackcap through the site. On the first net round, 4 birds were caught, one of which was a juvenile Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria), the first record for Leicestershire and Rutland. Mindful of the birds’ welfare, it was processed and released in front of a small audience of RW staff and volunteers – and two lucky birders who happened to be passing by. The bird was fit and healthy and flew off strongly on release. News soon got out and the rest of the afternoon saw a succession of birders scurrying down to the area to see if they could locate the bird which, as far as I know, they didn’t. To put this capture into context, in 2018, 983.176 birds were ringed in Britain and Ireland, only 33 of which were Barred Warblers. All were juveniles with 23 ringed in Scotland (11 on Fair Isle) and 10 in England. To record one inland is most unusual as the few that are recorded in Britain tend to brush the east coast on their southward migration from central/eastern Europe.
19 Blackcaps were also ringed – 18 juveniles and 1 adult female.

1 September 2018 – 110 ringed, 7 retraps – total 117 birds
A misty, cool start to the morning, dull, becoming sunny and breezy by midday. Birders were on the footpath near the hide before 07.00 looking for yesterday’s visitor. 88 Blackcaps were ringed, only one being an adult and 5 Reed Warblers – all juveniles – were also ringed. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was only the third to be caught at the site in 6 years of ringing here.

Sylvia warblers accounted for 2/3rds of all birds caught at the site – mostly in the autumn.

Since 2013 almost 5000 birds have been caught here with Blackcap accounting for almost a quarter of the total. The ‘top ten’ are: Blackcap – 1088, Chiffchaff – 421, Dunnock – 403, Garden Warbler – 368, Blue Tit – 300, Sedge Warbler – 274, Blackbird – 232, Robin – 215, Long-tailed Tit – 205 and Whitethroat – 166. Three figure totals for five other species have also been reached – Bullfinch, Great Tit, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Wren. These figures give just a snapshot of this relatively small site and are dependent to a great extent on ‘ringer effort’. One visiting birder, on being told I’d ringed 88 Blackcap in one morning had not even seen one on a round trip of the reserve and more often than not, I too am unaware of the numbers of birds moving through this site whilst I’m ringing – until they land in a net! Just how many birds, especially on migration, are making use of the reserve as a whole must be in the many thousands.

Retraps and controls
A selection of retraps/recoveries is shown below:
Lesser Whitethroat – ring number Z143667. Ringed as an adult male on 23 May 2015 and retrapped on 30 June 2016, 28 May 2017 and 20 April 2018.
Whitethroat – ring number Z143677. Ringed as an adult male on 23 May 2015 and retrapped on 30 June 2016 and 7 May 2018.
Sedge Warbler – ring number Z143690. Ringed as an adult female on 7 June 2015 and retrapped on 31 July 2015, 30 June 2016 and 7 May 2018.
Garden Warbler – ring number Z143845. Ringed as an adult (unsexed) on 11 August 2015 and retrapped on 9 August 2016 and 7 May 2018. It was sexed as a male bird in 2018.
All four of these sub-Saharan warblers were at least four years old when retrapped this year. All were ringed as adults.
Willow Warbler – ring number HXV839. Ringed as a juvenile on 23 June 2016 at Field 16 Constant Effort Site, Rutland Water and retrapped at Fieldfare Hide in 2016, at the Spring Migration Project Site, Rutland Water in April 2017 and then back at Fieldfare Hide in June 2018.
Another sub-Saharan migrant, this one ringed as a juvenile, returning to its natal area.
BlueTit – ring number D457930. Ringed as a juvenile on 12 September 2013 and retrapped on 29 May and 4 August 2014, 23 May 2015 and 20 April 2018.
Bullfinch – ring number Z143947. Ringed as a second year male on 19 April 2016 and retrapped on 4 May, 30 June and 29 July 2016, then on 7 May 2018
Bullfinch – ring number Y115409. Ringed as a juvenile male on 16 September 2017 at Hebes Wood, Rutland and controlled at Fieldfare Hide on 20 April 2018 – 216 days after being ringed.
Lesser Redpoll – ring number S333433. Ringed at Fieldfare Hide as an adult on 4 October 2017 and controlled at Old Shoes Meadow Nature Reserve, Capel, Surrey on 24 October 2017 – 20 days after being ringed and a distance of 169 km.

My thanks to Lloyd Park for his help with managing the vegetation on site and especially with setting the nets on 31 August. It was merely a coincidence that we bumped into each other that day and he had a short time to spare to help with the nets. The result was spectacular to say the least and that special bird will stay long in the memory.
Chris Hughes