The Dark Room

Monday, 15 April 2019

Patch update

The patch remains in steady mode at the moment but hopefully the coming weekend I should reach the magical 100 mark looking at the currant weather forecast?

The lastest birds have been:

86  Brambling
87 Sand Martin
88 Swallow
89 House Martin
90 Avocet - a good bird for the patch my 3rd record for the site.
91 LRP - didn't see one here all last year.
92 Grey Partridge
93 Reed Warbler
94 Willow Warbler
95 Cuckoo - 6 days earlier than last year.

The Avocet was well twitched by the locals but sadly didn't hang around for long. When I found it at the viewing area after work I was out on my bike and didn't have the camera. So Dave Morrison has kindly let me use his for the blog.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Heron chicks

Last Saturday afternoon I went out on a small boat with the Southern Colour Ringing Group to survey the Heronry at Netherhall. Only 27 nest were found on the Island which was down from last year due to some of the large trees being lost to the recent high winds. With the recent warm weather some of the Heron chicks were near fledging and the Little Egrets were already sitting on eggs, which was early than normal. However, 9 Heron was ringed and 7 of them was also coloured ringed. A massive thanks goes to Paul Roper and the team for the invite and the chance to ring a couple of  Grey Heron chicks.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Green-winged Teal at the valley

With a Firecrest refound on the 28th March by RS and the fact that all of the valley birders successfully twitched it after work, the patch moved up a level. However, PH found a drake Green-winged Teal the next day at the viewing area and the bar was raised to the very top. A site first and again had to be twitched after work-well done Paulboy... With no sign the next day and the noticeable drop in numbers of common Teal it looks like it has moved on quicker than we hoped. A male Brambling was a added bonus whilst out checking for the Teal. Sunday 31st I added Sand Martin (30) and 2 Swallow over by the reservoir bringing my patch year list total to 88. Which is down on last years figure by 6 at the same time of year.

Green-winged Teal 

Male 2cy Firecrest

Monday, 25 March 2019

Nut and Bull

Saturday 23rd 

Went out with PH ringing Saturday morning.  Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler, Bullfinch, Great Tit, Robin and Dunnock made a good mixture for the 3 hour session. The Blackcaps were new in with 4 being ringed and a few singing around the site made the place feel more spring like along with singing Chiffchaff. The highlight for me though was the 2 Bullfinch. A  male 5 and adult female 6.

male Bullfinch

female Bullfinch

Wing detail of the female Bullfinch

Cetti's Warbler 5

 EURING code 5 = definitely hatched during previous calender year (e.g first-years in early spring)
 EURING code 6= hatched before previous calender year - exact year unknown (e.g many adults in spring)

Sunday 24th

Once again up at 5am but this time ringing with PRO in the woodland up in Hertfordshire along with Louise.
Processed 43 birds highlights were 2 Nuthatch, 3 GSW, Coal Tit, 3 Greenfinch and a few Chaffinch. Also Brambling, Siskin and a few Red Kite over.

male Nuthatch

male Great Spotted Woodpecker 5

All images were taken with the Iphone.

Monday, 18 March 2019


Despite the strong winds last weekend there was a small window early Saturday morning on the 9th March to open up the nets and do some ringing.  Numbers of birds around the feeders were low but a smart Songthrush and our first Chiffchaff of the year was scribed into the book along with the usual Blue, Great tits, Blackbirds and Robins.

17th March

With far to strong winds again at the weekend for ringing I went over the patch instead. A Red Kite 3 Marsh Harrier, 2 Peregrine, 2 Common Buzzard 3 singing Chiffchaff were the highlights. The Kite puts me on 82 for the year patch list.

Sunday, 3 March 2019


For the past two Saturdays I've managed to squeeze in some ringing with Paul Roper on 23rd February and with Paul H on the 2nd March. The 23rd was all about contributing to the BTO Blue Tit moult project-basically trying to distinguish the retained (old) feathers grown in the nest from those grown in the moult by first year birds. 23 retraps and 19 new birds including 3 Redwing kept Louise and I busy.

Yesterday 2nd March Paul Hawkins and I did a short session in east London. Still low numbers around but still enjoyable as always. Just 12 birds processed but this 5 Male Goldcrest below was one of many seen around the site (first of the year here)

Goldcrest taken with the Iphone

The Patch is still in standard mode despite being on #81 for the year it just needs a decent bird for us all to spice things up a little. Tawney Owl, Stonechat, Green Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier, Coal Tit being the latest birds added.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Weekend Ringing

Saturday 17th February

Went out with the NTGG at a new site cannon netting for Gulls. A slight delay with the dust cart turning up later than expected meant that we had to take a quick catch as we had to be off site by lunch time. We ringed 323 gulls mostly Herring and had 3 controls from Denmark, Norway and York. Just a few Black headed and some GBBG. However we did see 3 Caspian Gulls all 2cy and 2 Med. With the experience team on site we were able to smoothly process all the gulls in time and safely. It was a fantastic morning ringing!

Black headed Gull 6

Adult Herring Gull 10

argentatus Herring Gull

Sunday 17th February

A short mist net ringing session with Paul H produced double figures but the bird of the day was this female Lesser Redpoll 5.

All images taken with the Iphone.

Thanks to Paul Roper and Paul Hawkins for a good weekend..