Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Beer Head

So I've been able to give Beer Head two more visits with the mist nets, last Friday and Monday just gone. Both sessions were fairly brief (dawn until mid morning), and both involved just two mist nets (a 60ft and a 40ft).

Friday started breezy and clear, but thankfully the wind soon died down and the session turned out to be quite a success.  Although the variety could have been better, I was more than pleased with 37 new birds trapped and ringed;

My able helper for the morning Peter, with the haul from the second net round (all two nets!).

Pleasingly, 18 of the 37 birds were Willow Warblers (4 ads, 14 juvs), with the other migrant birds trapped being six Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs and a surprise juvenile Swallow.  I think most/all the Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were probably Beer Head (or nearby) breeding birds, and the Swallow could even have been too, but the Willow Warblers would all have been on their southward migration.

Later that day I was pretty chuffed to learn the ringing team operating at Durlston Head (a migrant hot spot in south Dorset) that morning caught fewer birds than me (29). Sorry chaps, but to a backwater ringer at a new site which attracts far less migrants - that's very pleasing to hear!  It will probably never happen again though.

Monday morning was even windier, and sadly the wind never dropped. Wind + sun = not good mist netting conditions.  A nice bonus thanks to the early start was seeing Venus and Jupiter low to the east...

Venus is the brighter looking dot
This is the closest they've been to each other (looking from Earth) since 2000

Only caught ten birds in the couple of hours we were ringing - not the best session for local C ringer Doug to have joined me for the first time!  There were clearly very few migrants around, with singles of Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler trapped and ringed...

The Sedge Warbler (a young bird) was the first I've trapped up here - so made the session worthwhile.

Interestingly, amongst the ten birds ringed were five 'new' young Robins (all had completed their post juvenile moult), which i think were migrant birds. We didn't catch any during the Friday session which would also support this theory.

Birds that I saw but didn't ring during these sessions included on Friday a surprise Green Sandpiper over, along with a Ringed Plover and a Yellow Wagtail. And on Monday my first Tree Pipit of the autumn lingered for about half an hour before flying west, with two more Yellow Wags over.


  1. Well done Steve,great results.

  2. Cheers Jonh. It is certainly worth all the early mornings.