A summary of bird ringing at Fieldfare Hide in 2016

The ringing year at Fieldfare Hide started on a cool, still, clear morning in mid-April with the final session held in October.  Some new net rides were cut out on the south side of the hide to provide more flexibility and there are now more rides to choose from depending on weather conditions, especially wind direction.  The site continues to be an excellent base for training new ringers, offering a wide variety of species and is relatively easy to ‘work’.  Ringing is actually undertaken just off the main pathway to the hide and, as such, any visitors are welcome to watch proceedings as indeed many do.  Visitors this year came from Norfolk, Northumberland, Kent and Cambridgeshire as well as many from the East Midland counties. In addition, more formal ringing demonstrations are held at least annually.

During the 10 ringing sessions, a total of 988 birds were processed, 709 being birds that hadn’t been caught before of 25 species and 279 birds that were re-trapped or controls (birds caught and ringed elsewhere) of 18 species.

19 April 2016 – 23 ringed, 20 re-traps, 1 control – Total 44 birds

A cool morning with a ground frost on site at 6am.  A dawn chorus of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Wren, Robin, Lesser Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit built up and masses of Sand Martins were seen flying around during the morning. 7 nets were used and summer visitors ringed included Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.  A Chiffchaff, ringed at Stanford Reservoir in 2015 was controlled.  Also, a Cetti’s Warbler, singing since my arrival on site, finally dropped into a net around 8am.

4 May 2016 – 47 ringed, 40 re-traps, 1 control – Total 88 birds

Another cool start to the morning with an early ground frost which quickly burnt off and the day developed into a sunny, breezy one. 7 of 8 Garden Warblers ringed were caught together in one net and other migrants ringed included Sedge Warbler (7, all males), Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. 5 new Song Thrushes were a welcome sight and re-trapped Blackbirds from 2013, 2014 and 2015 also caught.  A second control for the year – this time a Blackcap ringed in Medway, Kent in 2014 – was duly processed.

25 June 2016 – 111 ringed, 40 re-traps – Total 151 birds

A dull cool start to the morning and a limited number of nets set as part of the south side was inaccessible due to the development of the undergrowth.  A very busy morning with several species ringed achieving double figures – Garden Warbler (16), Chiffchaff (15), Blackcap (14), Willow Warbler (13) Dunnock (11), Sedge Warbler (11) and Blue Tit (10).  87 of the 111 ringed were juveniles. A Bullfinch, ringed in 2013 was re-trapped along with several birds ringed in 2014 – Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Sedge, Garden and Willow Warblers.

30 June 2016 – 78 ringed, 45 re-traps – Total 123 birds

A breezy, mild day with some sunny spells.  The same net configuration as used on 25 June was again in action and produced another large number of juvenile birds –  70 of the 78 birds ringed. Good numbers of Garden Warbler (13), Blackcap (12), Chiffchaff (10) and Long tailed Tit (11) found the nets, the latter being one of very few ‘Lotti flocks’ around this year.  Accompanying them were 4 re-traps, all ringed on the same day in 2015.  A female Reed Warbler with a brood patch just starting to feather over was interesting as relatively few are caught at this particular site at Rutland Water so whether it had strayed onto the site or was a failed breeder moving through is open to speculation.

29 July 2016 – 64 ringed, 27 re-traps – Total 91 birds

A cool morning with quite a breeze springing up at first light.  This continued to strengthen during the morning, accompanied by occasional drizzle.  The threat of rain resulted in 5 nets being taken down by 0845, the rest being down before 11am.  Garden Warbler again showed strongly with 14 ringed, 11 of which were juveniles.  Juvenile Blackcap and Chiffchaff (7 of each) were also ringed together with 4 young Willow Warblers.  Two young Treecreeper were also ringed together with the first juvenile Bullfinches for the year at this site.  A female Bullfinch, ringed in 2013, and still going strong, was also processed.

9 August 2016 – 101 ringed, 28 re-traps – Total 129 birds

Good ringing weather to start the morning although it became sunny and breezy by 0930.  Before midday, the sun disappeared to leave a dull, blustery morning.  A good morning for juveniles with only 8 of the 101 ringed being adult birds.  Juveniles ringed were: Garden Warbler (17), Blackcap (15), Lesser Whitethroat (12), Wren (7), Robin (6), Blue Tit and Whitethroat (5), Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler (4), Great Tit, Reed Bunting and Willow Warbler (3), Dunnock, Blackbird and Treecreeper (2) and Bullfinch, Reed Warbler and Song Thrush (1).  Only the second Great Spotted Woodpecker caught here since 2013 was ringed and a Cetti’s Warbler, ringed earlier in the summer at the Field 16 CES site was re-trapped.

6 September 2016 – 51 ringed, 29 re-traps – Total 80 birds

The morning started with a large Badger rumbling along the track on the way down to the site.  A warm day with a clear sky developed but by 10.00 the weather was dull with a blustery wind. All 51 birds ringed were juveniles including 20 Chiffchaff and 14 Blackcap. One juvenile Sedge Warbler ringed was carrying a significant amount of stored fat in preparation for the move south and a young male Bullfinch with pink breast feathers just emerging was also ringed.  Retraps included a Great Tit, ringed as a juvenile on 19 June 2014 being recaught for the first time and a Blue Tit, ringed at the Birdfair in August making the short journey from that site to this one.

18 September 2016 – 135 ringed, 11 retraps, 1 control – Total 147 birds

The Sunday morning of the Rutland Water Ringing Group’s weekend.  With 12 ringers available all 16 nets were set and a staggering number of juvenile Blackcaps (71) and Chiffchaffs (26) were trapped and ringed.  The more unusual species ringed were Meadow Pipit (1 adult, 2 juveniles) and an un-aged Cetti’s Warbler. A Blackcap, ringed 10 days earlier in Hampshire was controlled.  The team had an interesting and informative morning and had plenty of opportunity to examine the finer points of juvenile Blackcaps!

21 September 2016 – 71 ringed, 29 retraps – Total 100 birds

A ringing demonstration for Rutland Water volunteers who enjoyed seeing 67 (out of 71) young birds being ringed.  Once again, young Blackcap (38) and Chiffchaff (10) led the field and interestingly, of the huge numbers of both species caught just a few days earlier only 3 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaffs were retrapped. Other migrants retrapped from the previous session were 2 Lesser Whitethroats and the only other migrant ringed was a juvenile Common Whitethroat.

4 October 2016 – 28 ringed, 7 retraps – Total 35 birds

The final session of the year with nets set on the south side of the hide only.  The majority of birds ringed were juveniles – Blackcap (15), Goldcrest (3, all males), Chiffchaff and Dunnock (2) with singles of Wren, Song Thrush, Blue Tit and Bullfinch.

ffh 2016


One bird ringed at the site was recovered elsewhere in 2016. This was:-

Blackcap – Ring number Z804430.  Ringed as a juvenile female on 21 September 2016 and found dead 26 days and 665 km away from the site at Troy, Cher, FRANCE.

Three birds ringed elsewhere were controlled at the site in 2016.  These were:-

Chiffchaff – Ring number EYH 997. It was ringed as a first year bird at Stanford Reservoir, Northants on 2 September 2015 and caught at Fieldfare Hide on 19 April, 25 June and 30 June 2016 – 230,297 and 302 days respectively since it was ringed.  The distance between sites is 38km.  On the later captures the birds’ sex was established as a female and it was clearly breeding in the vicinity.

Blackcap – Ring number Z308604. Ringed as a juvenile female on 8 September 2014 at MOD, Medway, Kent she was controlled on 4 May 2016 – 163km and 1 year, 239 days after being ringed.

Blackcap – Ring number Z476245. Ringed as a juvenile male at Titchfield Haven, Hill Head, Hampshire he was controlled on 18 September 2016 – 207 km and 10 days after being ringed.  An example of an odd movement as being on the south coast, the bird would have been expected to keep heading south.


Ringers working at this site in 2016 were: Candice Barker, Garry Barker, Colin Hewitt, Michelle Househam, Chris Hughes, Lloyd Park, Sam Pitt-Miller, Michael Polling, Peter Robinson, Will Smith, Paul Stammers and Amelia Woolford.  My thanks to them all.

Chris Hughes

January 2017