Sunday, 12 October 2014

Times they are a changing, Titchfield Haven Ringing Update - October 2014

This post reflects changes on two levels at Titchfield Haven; the first is that after 42 years of bird ringing at the Haven we have decided to set up a ringing group. Titchfield Haven Ringing Group (the obvious name to choose) has been formed in the hope that we can build a keen group of bird ringers who will help continue with our ringing studies at the site in the future. We currently have a group of three qualified ringers, Barry Duffin, Duncan Bell and me (Trevor Codlin) and several trainees, who are progressing well towards their ringing permits.

The second change is the season; summer is now well and truly behind us and autumn has arrived, although the severe thunderstorms we have had this week have been a bit out of season. Bird ringing has become slightly more unpredictable during the first half of October, due to some very variable weather. Despite this, and the fact that we are now approaching the middle of October, bird numbers have been holding up well. On the 3rd October 114 news birds were ringed, on the 5th October 145 and today, 11th October, 84 new birds were ringed. Of course the species mix has changed and Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper Warblers no longer predominate the numbers, instead we are faced with large numbers of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Reed Bunting numbers have also picked up and we have now ringed 21 new birds.

Occasional gems also pop into our nets and so far this October they have been in the form of two Bearded Reedlings, one male and one female, and a Stonechat. Bearded Reedling is not an uncommon species at Titchfield Haven, but the reed bed is so vast that they rarely stray into our ringing area, so these two were a real treat and the first of the year.

Male Bearded Reedling - © B S Duffin
Female Bearded Reedling - © B S Duffin

Similarly, the Stonechat is another species that does breed along the Meon Valley, and is regularly seen by us as we carry out our studies, but not often caught. Only 31 Stonechats have been ringed at the Haven since 1972, this individual was the first ringed since 1996, so a bit of a rarity in ringing terms.

Stonechat - © B S Duffin

The total of new birds ringed for the July to October ringing period has now passed 4400, and as I have stated in previous posts, there have been some very notable totals. Willow Warbler was the first with a record number of 270 birds ringed, and the Blackcap total has also set a new record, with the magic number of 800 new birds fast approaching. The Sedge Warbler total of 1225, is the fifth highest total, whilst the Reed Warbler total of 689 is the second highest. The Grasshopper Warbler total of 340 in also the fifth highest, and Garden Warbler at 67 is the third highest. Common Whitethroat numbers were at their second highest and Cetti's Warbler numbers are also high. A species that I haven't really mentioned before is the European Robin; currently the total for the year stands at 80 birds, only four off equalling the previous highest total. I haven't mentioned Chiffchaff yet because the migration of this species is still in full swing, with over 50 birds ringed today. As we approach 600 new birds ringed this total is already the second highest ever, but is unlikely to surpass 2011 when 858 new birds were ringed.

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