Saturday, 2 April 2011

Manor Farm Country Park - 2nd April 2011

They say that one swallow doesn't make a summer, well I wonder how many does? 

Today I returned to Manor Farm Country Park in Hampshire for some spring bird ringing and  the hope of catching some house sparrows for my ongoing RAS project. I only put up five nets as I was with a colleague who needed some training, but the usual sparrow nets were put up as they were my priority. Our first bird, surprisingly, was a second year female blackcap, which was my first ringed in the UK this year. As we continued with our first net round, two blackcaps and two chiffchaffs were noted singing; as I haven't been here for a few weeks I don't know how long they have been at the site, but suspect that they had arrived this week.

As I was extracting a sparrow during our second round I heard the familiar call of the barn swallow, and there above us were two swallows...... does that mean summers here? I was then distracted from the swallows by the frantic alarm calling of the resident starlings and jackdaws, and there above me a red kite slowly drifty west over the site. I haven't seen this species at the park before, but they have become much more common in Hampshire in recent years. I wonder if this was this one of the recent colonists or a newly arrived migrant?

I previously used to colour ring the house sparrows that I captured as part of my RAS project, but the little critters used to remove the odd ring making it impossible to decipher the different colour combinations, so I gave up. But I recently ordered some new darvic rings from a company in Poland, these rings are coloured and have three digits on them. These rings are overlapped making it very difficult for birds to remove, therefore it seemed like a good time to resurrect the colour ringing part of my project, as this massively increases the number of retraps seen each year.

Coloured Darvic Rings Used as Part of my RAS Project

Birds captured as part on my RAS project will be ringed with a single letter and two numbers on a yellow coloured ring, this ring will fitted on the left tarsus; a metal BTO scheme ring will be on the right trasus. Unless you live within a mile of Manor Farm Country Park it is unlikely that you will see one of my birds, as house sparrows are fairly sedentary, but you never know, so keep your eyes peeled.

After four hours ringing we had amassed a total of 23 birds, 15 new and eight retraps. The new birds included six house sparrows, the blackcap, a chiffchaff, blue and great tits and a  cracking adult male greenfinch. The retraps included a robin, a long-tailed tit and a four year old dunnock.

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