Christchurch Harbour Ringing Station

Ringing News

October 18th

On a calm and overcast morning conditions looked fair for a big catch. Unfortunately, this was not the case and we could only manage 21 birds. See Trektellen for full details. It was good to see John Morgan back on his old patch and thanks also to Jack for helping out first thing. Roll-on 2016!

October 10th

Bearded Tits
Adult Male Bearded Tits - HHC Kevin Sayer
Adult Female Blackbird - HHC Kevin Sayer
This bird was originally trapped last month and we sexed it as a male. Looking at it now I'm not so sure and we will have to mark it down  as a female! Probably of continental origin.

With autumn drawing on the morning felt extremely cool! A cold easterly wind meant a good overhead passage of migrants and we hoped some would drop into our nets. We were not disappointed and managed a catch of 68 birds. The previous evening we had attempted an alba roost catch but getting caught in a severe traffic jam at Hurn Airport meant we didn't arrive until about 30 mins before dusk. We did manage a single Pied Wagtail and an obliging passing male Sparrowhawk flushed 2 Cetti's Warblers into our nets.

During the morning we were catching mostly Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests so were expecting either a Yellow-browed warbler or perhaps a Firecrest to drop in too. Unfortunately, neither of these 2 autumnal beauties were caught but we did instead manage a fantastic consolation! We knew that Bearded Tits were doing their autumn irruptions around the harbour so we set a tape to play the pinging call of these beauties. Mid-morning I checked the reedbed nets and in there were 5 Bearded Tits. A single bird had been trapped earlier making a total of 6 for the morning.

Thanks to Brenda and her friend Ian for their help and to Colin Raymond for helping with the scribing during a busy morning. Full details on Trektellen.

September 10th

Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler (only 10 tail feathers) - Kevin Sayer

The north-easterly winds did us no favours in attracting migrants to our nets. We did catch a reasonable number of acro warblers but very little else. The surprise was catching 4 un-ringed Cetti's Warblers - they were all noted as "un-aged" but we believe they were all juveniles so they must have had a good breeding season in the Harbour.

Our total of 48 birds today were:- Reed Warbler 10,Sedge Warbler 19,Chiffchaff 3,Blackcap 2,Garden Warbler 2,Robin 5,Blackbird 1,Cetti's Warbler 4 and 2 Wrens.

Thanks to Brenda,Jack & Pete for their help today.

September 6th

Today we helped to organise a CHOG Open Day which comprised of the usual Ringing Demo at the Hengistbury Visitor Centre. Opening our reedbed nets before dawn revealed a healthy movement of acro warblers as well as a few common warblers in the scrub nets. In the end we managed a total of 75 birds as follows:-

Sedge Warbler 41,Reed Warbler 9,Cetti's Warbler 3,Chiffchaff 7,Willow Warbler 2,Robin 3,Blackcap 3,Whitethroat 1,Reed Bunting 1,Wren 1,Blue Tit 2,Great Tit 1 and a single Dunnock.

Thanks to Ed,Pete and my wife Elaine for scribing.

August 16th

Ringers Break
Elaine & Pete taking a break - Kevin Sayer

Today finally saw autumn migration take-off big time. With just  3 nets we managed to catch an incredible 122 birds. We started at dawn as usual and it wasn't long before the reed-bed nets were full of acros. As a bonus our single 40-foot scrub net was catching a good sample of Willow Warblers too. After about 3 hours non-stop extracting/ringing/processing we finally had a chance to take a break (see photo). The final totals were:- Sedge Warbler 82, Reed Warbler 17, Cetti's Warbler 2, Reed Bunting 1, Willow Warbler 15, Robin 2, Great Tit 1, Whitethroat 1 and a single Blackcap. It got to a stage where I almost ran-out of rings! Thanks to Elaine for scribing and to our new trainee Pete for their help.

August 11th

The number of acro warblers passing through the reedbeds is increasing which resulted in a healthy catch of 73 birds today. They consisted of:- Sedge Warbler 52, Reed Warbler 15 (inc. a control), Willow Warbler 2, Robin 1, Reed Bunting 1, Blackbird 1 and a single Garden Warbler. Thanks to my wife Elaine for helping to scribe.

August 7th

Migration of common passerines has now picked up which resulted in a good catch of 61 birds. Birds trapped were:- Reed Warbler 19,Sedge Warbler 29,Willow Warbler 6,Robin 3,Blackcap 2 and 2 Garden Warbler. Thanks to Elaine for her help.

August 2nd

By now we would expect to be catching a good number of Sedge Warblers at Hengistbury. However, today we could only manage 17 birds! We are still catching good numbers of Reed Warblers which we believe are a mix of local breeders and passing migrants. Our total today was 47 birds as follows:- Reed Warbler 23 (including a control), Sedge Warbler 17, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1, Blackcap 3, Garden Warbler 1 and a single Dunnock. Thanks to Jack for his help today.

July 25th

Skylark - Barn Field - Kevin Sayer

Net Ride

HHC Net-Ride - Kevin Sayer

Thanks to Hengistbury Ranger Brian Heppenstall for getting this net-ride cut in time for our Autumn Ringing. The Rangers have a new reed-cutting machine which works similarly to a lawn-mower. Anybody for cricket?

Our Autumn Ringing kicked off with a Ringing Demonstration run alongside an open day for Dorset Wildlife Trust. This was based at the Hengistbury Visitor Centre so thanks to Bournemouth Council for allowing us out-of-hours access to their garden. The highlight was Ed trapping a juvenile Skylark in the Barn Field using a single-panel net. This is the first Skylark trapped and Ringed by CHOG Ringers since 1987! Skylarks are tricky to catch as they don't tend to come anywhere near our nets being an open country dweller.

We were hoping to catch a good number of early Autumn migrants in and around the HHC reedbeds & scrub but in all we could only manage a total of 29 birds. By the end of July the Sedge Warblers are normally on their southward journey to Africa and we expect to catch a good number at this time of year. However, we could only trap 2 Sedge Warblers today but we did catch 14 Reed Warblers which we presume are mostly birds breeding locally. A Garden Warbler trapped in the HHC scrub was an unexpected bonus.

One of the re-trapped Reed Warblers, an adult female, was originally ringed in July 2009 and apart from today was re-trapped twice in July 2014. Evidence that Reed Warblers are site faithful and that adults tend to leave earlier than juveniles.

We are now on Trektellen! Click here for more details.

Our totals were:- Reed Warbler 14, Sedge Warbler 2, Blackcap 1, Garden Warbler 1, Great Tit 1, Robin 1, Chiffchaff 5, Whitethroat 1, Skylark 1, Greenfinch 1 and a single Blue Tit. Thanks to my wife Elaine for scribing, and to Ed also.

May 25th

Male Stonechat - Hengistbury- Kevin Sayer
Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat - Kevin Sayer

It was the CHOG Members' Day Ringing Demo and as usual we used the Hengistbury Visitor Centre as our base. Not much was going though on the migrant front but we did manage some interesting birds. We rarely trap Stonechats on Hengistbury unless they make a foray into the reedbeds. Ed had erected some nets in the Barn Field so it was no surprise when we managed this smart male. Eds' nets also managed to catch some breeding Whitethroats as well as this Lesser Whitethroat.

In all we managed to catch 22 birds as follows:- Reed Warbler 2,Lesser Whitethroat 1, Common Whitethroat 3,Dunnock 4,Blackbird 2,Stonechat 1,Greenfinch 6,Robin 1,Cetti's Warbler 1 and a male Blackcap.

Thanks to Elaine & Ed for their help.

February 24th

Roebury Lane Net Ride
Forty-Foot Net Ride - Kevin Sayer
Hengistbury Scrub Clearance - Kevin Sayer

Sixty-Foot Net Ride - Kevin Sayer

Over the winter months Bournemouth Council Rangers have been busy doing some maintenance on our ringing area at Hengistbury. The above photos give an idea of what they have done. The hedge along Roebury Lane has been reduced in height to (hopefully) stop migrants flying straight over our nets. The scrub clearance will also (hopefully) attract more birds into our nets. Thanks to Rangers Brian & Hugh for all their work.

October 12th

White Wagtail
White Wagtail - Kevin Sayer
White Wagtail
White Wagtail - Kevin Sayer

The previous evening we had targeted the Pied Wagtail roost at the HHC and managed to trap 15 Pied Wagtails which included a bird of the race alba (White Wagtail) - see photos.

This morning at the HHC we managed to trap a few of the migrants still passing thru' along with a few local birds. The total catch was 37 birds as follows:- 13 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Song Thrushes, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 5 Wrens, 2 Blue Tits, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Dunnock, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Blackbird, 2 Great Tits, 1 Greenfinch and a single Reed Bunting. Thanks to Brenda for her help.

Pair of Chiffchaffs - Kevin Sayer
The bird on the left has a much more pronounced supercilium and appeared darker on the crown and mantle. Unfortunately, this does not appear so obvious in this photo.

September 6th

Marsh Warbler
Marsh Warbler - Kevin Sayer
Marsh Warbler Head
Marsh Warbler - Kevin Sayer
Marsh Warbler Wing
Marsh Warbler - Kevin Sayer
Marsh Warbler Legs
Marsh Warbler - Kevin Sayer
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail - Kevin Sayer

Whilst setting the nets for next day's CHOG Members' Day Ringing Demonstration I decided to try and catch some of the Yellow Wagtails which roost in the reedbed at this time of year. I was successful with 2 juveniles but decided not to push my luck and went home early as I had an early start next morning.

We had decided to use the new Hengistbury Visitor Centre Garden as our base for the Ringing Demo which meant a few logistical challenges with our ringing gear. Not using tapes and only erecting 6 nets we were not expecting a large catch but we did get a decent variety of species - which is what you aim for on such a day. However, as we were rounding things off Ed came back from almost the last net round with what initially appeared to be a strange coloured Reed Warbler. I soon realised it was an adult bird due to its heavily worn tertials. This first sounded alarm bells as most adult Reed Warblers have long departed our shores by now. Measuring the wing and finding it was 69mm, then I knew it was probably something a bit special! The one biometric that separates Reed from Marsh Warbler is the notch/wing ratio. This is calculated by dividing the length of the notch on the 2nd primary by the wing length. This came to a figure (using my ringing box calculator) which conclusively put it in the Marsh Warbler camp.

The remaining catch of 34 birds is summarised as:- Reed Warbler 6, Sedge Warbler 9, Marsh Warbler 1, Yellow Wagtail 2, Wren 1, Chiffchaff 3, Willow Warbler 2, Robin 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 2, Blackcap 1, Blackbird 2, Great Tit 2, Blue Tit 1 and a single Reed Bunting.

Thanks to Ed for his help and all the other CHOG Members who helped out.

August 20th

Adult Jay - Kevin Sayer

The coldest morning so far this summer! I nearly put my gloves on whilst erecting the nets it was so cold! However, the acros piled-in as soon as it got light and we ended up with a reasonable catch of 77 birds. Another Green Woodpecker was trapped behind the HHC pond along with this Jay. Totals were:- Sedge Warbler 49, Reed Warbler 10, Willow Warbler 4, Chiffchaff 2, Jay 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Greenfinch 1, Blue Tit 1 (our first this year would you believe), Robin 1, Reed Bunting 2, Blackbird 1, Wren 2, Whitethroat 1 and a single Cetti's Warbler.

Thanks to Brenda and Elaine for their help this morning.

August 9th

Cetti's Warbler
Juvenile Cetti's Warbler - Kevin Sayer

One of a few passerines that only has 10 tail feathers. No idea why!

Reed Warbler

Juvenile Reed Warbler - Kevin Sayer

This juvenile shows extremely well the barring on both the wing and tail feathers. This is caused by a lack of food at a critical time during its development. One of the sure ways of spotting a juvenile bird.

Whilst erecting the nets on the previous evening I got absolutely soaked - Thank you Met Office! The morning broke to a breezy day but with warm sunshine. There is an "old Ringer's tale" that says after a night of heavy rain you won't catch much. So with the strengthening breeze I wasn't too confident of trapping too many birds. However, I restricted myself to just 3 nets which turned out to be the right decision in the end. We are currently finding that the acro rush starts about 30 mins after first light and lasts for around an hour. After that you might as well pack-up and go home. Today that pattern repeated itself and I was back home by 9am! I still managed to trap 46 birds with just my good wife Elaine as scribe. A total of 29 Sedge Warbler, 13 Reed Warbler, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Dunnock, 1 Whitethroat and a single Cetti's Warbler.

August 3rd

Ageing Woodpigeons
Ageing the Woodpigeon - Kevin Sayer

Unfortunately, from time-to-time we have to refer to our BTO Guides in order to correctly age and sex some birds. We're not allowed to guess! Here Brenda is reading out the appropriate text to Kathryn. Sadly for us, Kathryn is about to move to Norfolk where she will start work at the BTO. Even more Woodpigeons there!

Green Woodpecker adult male

Adult male Green Woodpecker - Kevin Sayer

A rather breezy morning at Hengistbury kept the number of birds trapped to a minimum. We did manage a further 58 birds as follows:- Sedge Warbler 34, Reed Warbler 16, Willow Warbler 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Wren 2, Reed Bunting 2, Woodpigeon 1 and a single Garden Warbler.

Thanks to Kathryn, Brenda and Ed for their help today.

August 1st

A slight change in the barometer has meant a slight reduction in the amount of migrants coming through today - well that's my theory anyway! Even so we managed a further 78 birds (not including Ed's) as follows:- Sedge Warbler 57, Reed Warbler 14, Reed Bunting 1, Chiffchaff 2 and 4 Willow Warblers.

Thanks to Annalea for her help today.

July 27th

Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler - Kevin Sayer

We are now getting a good number of Sedge Warblers coming through the Ringing Area, which is the normal period for this species - late July to early August. A few juvenile Willow Warblers are also appearing and it seems Cetti's Warblers locally had a good breeding season with 3 trapped this morning. A total of 132 birds were caught as follows:- Sedge Warbler 81,Reed Warbler 27,Willow Warbler 9,Cetti's Warbler 3,Reed Bunting 4,Wren 1,Blackcap 1,Robin 3,Swallow 2 and a single Great Tit.

Thanks to Ed and Brenda for their help today.

July 21st

Our first "Autumn" session turned in an adequate start with 45 birds as follows:- Reed Warbler 18,Sedge Warbler 22,Wren 3,Reed Bunting 1 and a single Greenfinch. An adult male Reed Warbler caught today was originally ringed by us in Aug 2009 as a juvenile and re-trapped in July 2010, but not subsequently since.

Thanks to Elaine and Annalea for their help this morning.

July 18th

Pond Netride 1
Pond Net-Ride "Before" Kevin Sayer
Pond Netride 2
Pond Net-Ride "After" Kevin Sayer

Over the last few days we have been doing some preparation for our Autumn Ringing. (It may seem strange talking about Autumn when its 30 degrees in the shade). With the help of Brian Heppenstall of Bournemouth Council we have almost finished - the above photos show before and after of the net-ride behind the HHC Pond.

May 18th

The Spring continues to disappoint with just a further 9 birds trapped this morning. The HHC reedbed was very quiet with few signs of any acro warblers setting-up territories. The scrub fared no better with just 1 or 2 Whitethroats performing their song flights - no sight or sound of any Blackcap, Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff. Our totals were:- Whitethroat 2, Reed Warbler 1, Blackbird 2, Song Thrush 1 (juvenile), 1 Cetti's Warbler and 2 Dunnocks. The Cetti's was a retrap and originally ringed at the HHC in April 2009. One of the Dunnocks was ringed as a juvenile in Sept 2011. Thanks to Kathryn and Chris for their help today.

April 21st

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting - Kevin Sayer

Today we organised a Ringing Demo in conjunction with Bournemouth Council but unfortunately nobody told the birds! We could only manage 7 birds all morning so had very little to show our visitors. The best bird was probably this adult male Reed Bunting. Totals were:- Reed Bunting 1, Chiffchaff 2,Song Thrush 1,Greenfinch 1,Sedge Warbler 1 and a single Dunnock. Thanks to Kathryn, Ed and Chris for their help today.

April 17th

Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat – Kevin Sayer
Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler - Kevin Sayer

Although with high pressure persisting the lack of grounded migrants around the HHC continued. We were pleased to hear a reeling Grasshopper Warbler nearby as we erected our nets before sunrise and also some calling Reed Warblers in the adjacent reedbed. However, we could only muster 8 birds in the morning. The best being a Lesser Whitethroat and our first Sedge Warbler this year. Totals were:- Blackcap 3,Lesser Whitethroat 1,Dunnock 1,Sedge Warbler 1 and 2 Willow Warblers. Let's hope a change in the weather brings in a fall of birds.

Thanks to Brenda for her help today.

April 13th

Redstart – Kevin Sayer
Our second Spring session at the HHC resulted in just 14 birds but amazingly included 2 male redstarts caught together. The other birds were:- Blackcap 2,Chiffchaff 2,House Sparrow 1,Song Thrush 1,Cetti's Warbler 1,Greenfinch 3,Redstart 2,Dunnock 1 and a single Blackbird. Thanks to Kathryn,Nigel,Chris and Jenny for their help today.

April 10th

Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker - Brenda Cook

Our first Spring session at the HHC resulted in a healthy 16 birds. The best was this second-year male Green Woodpecker. We also managed to re-trap a Chiffchaff which we originally caught in April 2013 - it maybe staying to breed or just passing through. We also re-trapped a female Dunnock which was originally ringed as a juvenile in Sept 2012.

As Ringers one of our skills is being able to accurately age birds in the hand. Wrens can sometimes be a bit tricky but a 2nd year bird (fledged in 2013) was re-trapped today. So I was pleased to find out that when we originally ringed this bird, last October, we had got the ageing right!

Totals were:- Blackcap 5,Chiffchaff 1,Willow Warbler 4,Wren 1,Green Woodpecker 1,Dunnock 2,Great Tit 1 and a single Blackbird.

Thanks to Brenda for her help this morning.

Bi-ennial Reports

There are now reports for 2008-9, 2010-11 and 2012-13 freely available to download. These contain full details of all ringing activities undertaken by the group along with colour photos from these years. Click here to get your free copy.