Sunday, 23 August 2015

Titchfield Haven Bird Ringing - Late August update

It has been a very mixed bag this season at the Haven which has not been helped by the very changeable weather. Fortunately Barry is retired which means that he can do some sessions during the week in order to keep our effort constant, but Duncan and I are getting limited opportunities to ring at weekends. If we are lucky we may be able to get one session a week, which is great for catching up with sleep, or doing general birding, so we can't complain, but we would rather be ringing.

Despite the inconsistent weather conditions the overall ringing total for the year is holding up reasonably well, but unless there is going to be a very late surge in the numbers of migrants it is looking like this year the totals will be at best average. That said there are some notable exceptions; on the down side, the Grasshopper Warbler total remains exceptionally low with only 36 birds ringed to date. For the period 2010 to 2014 inclusive, by 23rd August the average is 143 birds, so this year's total is significantly lower that we would have expected. It won't be the lowest total since 1998 as we have already passed that, but could be within the bottom five.

Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler

On the flip side of that, the Reed Warbler total currently stands at 450, which is the highest total for the period 2010 to 2014 by 23rd August, and well above the average for that period which is 293. The overall total for all species for the period up to 23rd August stands at 1310 birds of 20 species. 

A summary of selected species from 2010 - 2015 up to 23rd August
A summary of selected species from 2010 - 2015 up to 23rd August

The only unusual record is a Common Nightingale that is only the sixth ever ringed at the site. There has been very little evidence of visible migration over the last few weeks, with the odd Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail and on 2nd August a Marsh Harrier

Common Nightingale - Note the pale tips to the tertials confirming this bird to be a juvenile, also the first primary can be seen extending 
beyond the longest primary covert, thereby confirming it as a Common not Thrush Nightingale (B. S. Duffin)

On the morning of 22nd August we held one of our public ringing events, which was well attended as usual. The session was steady, with 78 birds ringed, Reed and Sedge Warblers were as ever the most numerous species, but five Grasshopper Warblers were very welcome. Once again there was very little evidence of visible migration, the most notable species being Yellow Wagtail, with two birds and a single Common Swift. Just as we closed the nets a couple of sparring Sparrowhawks put in a great aerial display before drifting off to the east.

Sparring Sparrowhawks

After the session I stopped for a quick look off the sailing club at Hill Head with Simon Ingram, who had joined us for the mornings ringing session. There was a flock of around 100 terns roosting on the shingle but unfortunately, as is a common theme these days, the level of disturbance was very high with kayakers, fishermen and dog walkers continuously flushing the birds to the point where there was nowhere for them to settle. Simon was intent of finding a Black Tern and after a quick scan through the flock, looked out to sea, I concentrated of the roosting terns as there was a constant turnover of birds. It wasn't long before I picked out a cracking adult Roseate Tern, I quickly got Simon onto it and then we put the news out. The speed at which we did that enabled Graham Barrett, who was on the other side of the harbour, to get onto the bird, before once again, the flock was flushed, this time they did not return.

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