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After westerlies all week, it was interesting to see the wind switch round to the north and the skies to clear, at this time of year that means one thing, a big rush of migrants. Graham had ringed lots of Meadow Pipits the day before so we put up a Meadow Pipit triangle for the first time this year, the good thing with Meadow Pipits is that they start gaining momentum just as  we have got through the early morning rush of Blackcaps.
 
The day started well with a Tawny Owl just as I was opening the nets. We had a strong team out today and I knew we would be able to safely manage any potential catch but today did push the team a little but I have to say that I was totally impressed with how good this team have become.
 
Tawny
 
We ringed a lovely array of warblers and those Salisbury Plain specialities of Whinchat, Stonechat and Redstart and we even retrapped a Stonechat that we originally ringed at the start of August.
 
We always hope for control warblers and we did get two Blackcaps that had been ringed elsewhere.
 
On the Salisbury Plain there is always an early morning rush and then it quietens down so by 9am we are normally sat around drinking tea and eating cake but today just as it started quietening down the Meadow Pipits started going in the nets to keep us nicely occupied. As I walked along one net I looked down and saw a striking supercilium and knew immediately it was a Firecrest, a very rare catch for us and my favourite bird apart from Tree Sparrows.
 
A bit later, Swallows started moving but we rarely catch them and then House Martins came gliding in and they were getting lower and lower. I have often tried playing a call for them but it always proves to be the surest way to scare off every House Martin in the vicinity but I remember back to days on the coast where House Martins responded brilliantly. Today I played the call in the usual speculative manner and the martins immediately started descending towards me, we quickly put the player by the net and we caught 57 in very quick time but then one got out of the net, alarm called and they all disappeared as quickly as they came. This is the first time they have ever responded for me in Wiltshire and so the team had the rare pleasure of ringing a good number of these beautiful little birds and their amazing 'furry' feet. Best of all was that one was already ringed, control House Martins are very rare so we wait with eager anticipation as to the origins of this bird.
 
Houma control
 
As I drove off the plain I was struck by just how many Meadow Pipits and Swallows were present across the whole of the area, they must really have been held up somewhere north all week. Sometimes 'The Plain' just amazes me with how good it is for birds and today was obviously just one of those special days. MP, AF, NW, AM, NP, TW
 
Tawny Owl 1, House Martin 56 (1), Swallow 8, Meadow Pipit 56, Firecrest 1, Redstart 1, Whinchat 2, Stonechat 2 (1), Blackcap 200, Garden Warbler 3, Whitethroat 7, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Sedge Warbler 6, Reed Warbler 3, Blackbird 1, Robin 3 (2), Dunnock 1, Blue Tit 1, Greenfinch 1, Goldfinch 4, Bullfinch 1, Reed Bunting 10 (1)

 

I was watching the weather like a hawk all week because there were spells of westerlies sweeping in carrying rain and then calm dry spells and it looked like today could be a gap in the weather.
 
As this is a private site I can set the nets the night before and the forecast for the evening was calm with the occasional brief shower so I was considering trying a Swallow roost. I played the tape for an hour but nothing appeared so I stopped it. I then set about putting the nets up and half way through I heard a dull, rather ominous 'whoom' sound, I looked up one minute and saw blue sky, the next minute I looked up and there it was, just about the heaviest rain storm I have been in, I was soaked to the skin in seconds, the rain drops were verging on hail, they were huge cold and hurt my head.
 
I woke up in the morning to a clear sky and zero wind which is perfect. We weren't the strongest team today so we had to limit the net set to a simple circuit of ten nets with no wader nets or bonus sets. This didn't matter too much as we were kept nicely occupied all morning with a steady stream of birds. We were joined by Steve Birt as scribe for the morning, Steve is a good scribe and good company and it is always a pleasure to have him join us. Highlight of the morning was a juvenile Cettis Warbler, this is a typical autumn appearance of a dispersing juvenile but sadly it is the first one that we have ringed this year. Without ringing we would not have known of the presence of this bird.
 
Cettis
 
We ringed a decent selection of warblers and it was particularly nice to still catch Garden Warblers, I always think that any Garden Warbler after 10th September is notable. With no retrap warblers it appears that all of the summer visitors from the site have moved on and so we are now only seeing migrants. MP, PW, SW, TL, SB
 
Cettis Warbler 1, Blackcap 113, Whitethroat 4, Garden Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 8, Reed Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 20, Willow Warbler 2, Robin 7 (2), Bullfinch 1, Blue Tit 4 (1), Great Tit 3, Long Tailed Tit 2, Wren 3, Dunnock 6, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1

 

Today we had a team build with my team from work at Swindon STW working with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on managing the habitats on site. Simon and I did a little ringing demo beforehand and we were delighted to be joined by Ellie Jones who is the Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts Field Officer and also is a trainee ringer.
 
We only set a few nets and because of the continued westerly winds the session was pretty limited in number and variety but folk seemed to enjoy it. Ellie then led the work party teaching us how to use scythes and I have to say, though I am a committed brush cutter user, the scythes were very effective and I would definitely use one again. The task was to clear an area of reed canary grass that we manage to attract Snipe during the winter and the team did a great job getting the area just right. MP, SW, TL:, EJ
 
Blackcap 51, Whitethroat 3, Garden Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 4, Reed Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 4 (1), Wren 1, Robin 2 (2), Song Thrush 1, Bullfinch 1 (1)
 
Sprawk

 

Today we had a team build with my team from work at Swindon STW working with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust on managing the habitats on site. Simon and I did a little ringing demo beforehand and we were delighted to be joined by Ellie Jones who is the Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts Field Officer and also is a trainee ringer.
 
We only set a few nets and because of the continued westerly winds the session was pretty limited in number and variety but folk seemed to enjoy it. Ellie then led the work party teaching us how to use scythes and I have to say, though I am a committed brush cutter user, the scythes were very effective and I would definitely use one again. The task was to clear an area of reed canary grass that we manage to attract Snipe during the winter and the team did a great job getting the area just right. MP, SW, TL:, EJ
 
Blackcap 51, Whitethroat 3, Garden Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 4, Reed Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 4 (1), Wren 1, Robin 2 (2), Song Thrush 1, Bullfinch 1 (1)

 

We had a really good team assembled today, well prepared for another stunning day on the Salisbury Plain. The number of Blackcaps has increased considerably and we were very busy early morning. Sedge Warblers had increased from last week but we only ringed one each of Grasshopper Warbler and Reed Warbler. It was frustrating hearing Tree Pipits going over but they did not respond at all to the playback lures. We did well for Whinchats today and 4 ringed was good but we then caught an adult male with colour rings so we presumed that it had been ringed on SPTA West but we have found out that it was actually ringed as a breeding male in June 134km away in Somerset which is a remarkable movement and certainly teaches us that the Whinchats on the plain can come from anywhere. MP, PW, NW, TW, NP, TL
 
Whinchat cr
 
Corbu
 
Whinchat 4 (1), Redstart 2, Meadow Pipit 2, Blackcap 196, Whitethroat 15 (2), Garden Warbler 3, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 45, Reed Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 10, Willow Warbler 3, Goldfinch 4, Linnet 3, Reed Bunting 5, Yellowhammer 2, Corn Bunting 1, Long Tailed Tit 0 (2), Robin 3

 

Excitement was high again with the anticipation of ringing on the Salisbury Plain and we had a really good team out, joined by Nigel Pleass who himself is now a pretty decent ringer. I have been telling Nigel how good the plain is and he was really looking forward to seeing the spectacle. Blackcaps did their usual act of roaring through at dawn and Whitethroats were also very numerous. One of the most notable calls for me when I am in scrub on the plain is the call of Redstarts, it is a call easily missed but once you know it you realise how many there are on the plain and we ringed 5 today including one of the smartest I have ever seen.
 
Redst
 
I really wanted to catch some Tree Pipits as I personally haven't ringed one for two years but it was not to be for me today as we did ring two but they were ringed by dad and daughter, Gary and Jodie. Whinchats are a bit low in number this year but we did ring 3 more today. The little brown jobs did us proud today as we ringed the most Grasshopper Warblers of the year with 11, then we processed control Reed and Sedge Warblers.
 
Trepi
 
The flocks of Goldfinch and Linnets have dispersed now and we only ringed a handful of them. An immature male Sparrowhawk capped off a really wonderful morning in fine style. MP, OF, PW, NP, GH, JH
 
Sparrowhawk 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Redstart 5, Whinchat 3, Tree Pipit 2, Meadow Pipit 1, Blackcap 91 (1), Whitethroat 40 (1), Lesser Whitethroat 1, Grasshopper Warbler 11, Sedge Warbler 27 (1), Reed Warbler 9 (1), Chiffchaff 8, Willow Warbler 9, Linnet 3, Goldfinch 12, Dunnock 1, Wren 2, Robin 3, Great Tit 1
 
Spot Fly

 

I was away ringing in Norway this time last year and so I was really excited about getting out and catching some migrants as they move through the Salisbury Plain. I was joined by Paul, Gary and Jodie all excited with the prospect of what was to come after a hard years CES ringing.
 
The day did not disappoint with a lovely array of species. We play calls to attract Whinchats to enable us to catch them and today we ringed four which is a treat but ringing these birds is important because the Salisbury Plain holds about 1.5% of the UK Whinchat population. This was the first day that Blackcaps really moved in good numbers and the Sedge Warblers were just everywhere. We also play for Grasshopper Warbler and we ringed a very creditable 7 today, the picture shows an adult, identified as such by the very worn wing and tail feathers. There were huge flocks of Linnets and Goldfinches present and though 16 Linnets seems good, it was nothing compared with the many hundreds that were present.
 
The amazing fact from today was that we did not catch any birds at all with rings on, it isn't much of a surprise that we didn't catch any resident birds because this area has very few breeding birds these days but we do expect to catch migrants that have been ringed elsewhere. 
 
The one disappointment was that a few Tree Pipits flew over calling but they did not come down to our lures. Tree Pipits have declined drastically and this is our only chance to catch them and so realistically we only have 2-4 chances per year. MP, PW, GH, JH
 
Whinchat 4, Stonechat 1, Redstart 3, Meadow Pipit 2, Blackcap 76, Garden Warbler 10, Whitethroat 32, Lesser Whitethroat 2. Willow Warbler 11, Chiffchaff 2, Grasshopper Warbler 7, Sedge Warbler 48, Reed Warbler 6, Blue Tit 3, Great Tit 1, Linnet 16, Goldfinch 2, Wren 3, Robin 1, Dunnock 1, Yellowhammer 1
 
Gropper

 

After our last really lovely session on the Salisbury Plain we were back down to core conservation ringing with the last CES visit of the year. I was really quite frustrated that once again we couldn't put up any extra nets because we did not have enough experienced ringers.
 
49 ringed and 16 retraps made for a very sedate ringing session with a very notable absence of Reed Warbler and also that all of the Blackcaps were juveniles so nearly all of the adult summer warblers have now left. This session last year produced 70 birds and so it was pretty much the same as last year.
 
Just as we were taking the nets down. I took out the last bird of the CES season and it was a real highlight as Phil ringed his first Kingfisher.  MP, SW, PDU, TL
 
, Kingfisher 1, Blackcap 25 (10), Whitethroat 5 (1), Garden Warbler 2 (1), Lesser Whitethroat 2, Chiffchaff 6, Sedge Warbler 1, Dunnock 1, Wren 4 (1), Robin 2 (1), Blackbird 0 (1), Song Thrush 0 (1)
 
KF

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Wiltshire Ornithological Society was formed on November 30th, 1974, and has grown in recent years to more than 500 members.

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