Well today was an interesting day, and it started with an early morning ringing session at Titchfield Haven. Although, when I say early morning, a 7am start was very civilised compared with the 4am starts of earlier in the season. Bird numbers have been lower over the last couple of weeks so despite only two ringers being present we opened all of the nets and waited with eager anticipation.
The first bird was somewhat of a surprise in the form of an unseasonably late Willow Warbler. It has been over a month since we last caught one but there was no mistaking its identity.
|Juvenile Willow Warbler - October 2011|
However given the late date of this bird we checked and double checked its identity, but it was just a Willow Warbler! Its wing measured 67mm, it was emarginated on only the 3rd, 4th and 5th primaries, and its wing point was formed by the 3rd and 4th primaries...this may well prove to be the last Willow Warbler record from Hampshire this year!
Other species captured included the usual Blackcaps and Robins, whilst Chiffchaffs continued to smash the previous annual total for the species, and by the end of today we have ringed 797 birds. Our previous highest total was recorded in 2000, when 449 birds were captured. Our annual total for Kingfishers stands at four, and today we recaptured one of those birds.
Cetti's Warbler numbers continued to struggle after two harsh winters, and the new bird captured today brought our total for the year to 25, 71 birds down on our record total....
|Cetti's Warbler, Titchfield Haven October 2011|
.....and a lone Treecreeper was only our second of the year and one of only 39 birds ringed at the site since 1973.
|Treecreeper, Titchfield Haven October 2011|
By the end of the session we had captured and ringed just short of 70 birds, a very respectable total given the time of year.
Being the holder of a Natural England European Protected Species licence in respect to dormice, I offered to help out with ongoing survey work for the species, whilst training staff at the Haven. And so after finishing our ringing session we set about checking the dormouse boxes. Our first boxes were situated around out ringing site, and the first four boxes produced three nests, one of which had four animals, an adult female and three youngsters, in it.......instant success!!
|Hazel Dormouse, Titchfield Haven 2011|
We have found the species in the ringing area before, but were pleasantly surprised by the presence of four animals in one box.
|Hazel Dormouse, Hampshire - October 2011|
We then continued onto the next site, which is still managed by the same Hampshire County Council team. Last year we found several dormouse nests but no actual animals. This year however things were very different.......out of 30 boxes we found a total of five dormice in three different boxes...
|Two Hazel Dormice, Hampshire 2011|
...... and five other boxes with nests indicating that the boxes had been used by dormice. So all in all a cracking day, and our best ever total of dormice at both sites, maybe they have had a good year too!!!!