The Dark Room

Friday 28 December 2018

Reed Bunting in the hand

A steady morning ringing with Hawky yesterday produced the following.

3 Reed Bunting
2 Redwing
7 Long tailed Tit
Blackbird (retrap)
11 Blue Tit
4 Great Tit

Adult male Reed Bunting (4)

1cy Male Reed Bunting 

Notice the pointed tail feathers on the above and below images and light brown T6 making ageing for both birds as 1cy (3) easy. If they had rounded tail feathers and have a strong black and white marks to T6 they would be aged as Adult (4)

1cy female Reed Bunting (3)

Monday 17 December 2018


A short ringing session with Paul H produced 10 Lesser and 1 Common Redpoll, Yellowhammer, 2 Redwing, Robin, 2 Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue Tit and Great Tits. A total of 25 birds was a good return with the nets only up for just two hours.

Male Lesser Redpoll

Common Redpoll or north western above was a interesting bird in structure and having a wing of 75mm and a weight of 11.6g.

Male Yellowhammer

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Ringing Fieldfare

With the weather being to wet and windy for ringing over the past two weeks it was nice to grab a morning session on Tuesday with Paul. A cold and misty morning which soon cleared produced 28 new birds. The highlights for both of us was two cracking Fieldfare both 3's (1cy)



One method for sexing Fieldfare is to check the crown feathers, Male's have larger blackish centres.


With 2 Redwing, 3 Blackbird, 5 Goldfinch, Dunnock. Wren, Chaffinch and Blue and Great Tits it was a real good mix.

Sunday 25 November 2018


It's been a busy month with some ups and downs.  On the 3rd/4th of November we were at Rye Meads and our target species was Gadwall and Shoveler but despite all the hard work put in the week before by Paul Roper the ducks just kept out of range and sadly we couldn't take a catch. On the plus side the Rye Mead ringing group took a few of us out around the site and even let us ring Mallard and Coot.

Adult female Mallard

17th went out again with Paul H ringing and caught 4 Goldfinch, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Dunnock.

We failed to catch any Skylark on the 18th that evening but did get some good experience in using different techniques of catching.

24th was much better with 3 Redwing, 3 Goldcrest, Great Tit and a Wren. The 25th produced another Redwing but this time a spanking Adult. 3 Robin, 2 Dunnock and Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits.

Redwing (3)

Goldcrest Female left and male right

And thanks to both Paul H and Paul R

Monday 29 October 2018

Putting the nets up

Spent Saturday morning ringing at the east London site with PH. Despite Brambling, 2 Siskin, 7 Grey Wagtail and Redwings over at the start of the session the nets stayed quiet with only 14 birds being processed but still enjoyable as ever. With it being slow it was a ideal chance to learn about putting the nets up and taking them down. Sounds easy but imagine putting a football net into a small envelope and making sure it comes out untangled and tying guy ropes with one hand while holding the 3m poles in the other and not dropping the net bag - not easy but I can now do it thanks to Paul.

A 3 Male Blackbird notice the old and new feathers (partial moult)

Sunday 21 October 2018

A busy week

It's been a busy week what with decorating and building bedroom furniture in my daughters room and fitting in as much ringing and birding as I can. So, Wednesday morning up at Paul R's house, processed 36 birds which included a good mix of common birds.  Saturday morning back up to Paul's again ringing but with a lot more quality. 53 birds processed the highlights being 9 Redwing, 4 Meadow Pipit, Coal Tit, 7 Chaffinch, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Goldfinch, GSW, 5 Greenfinch and 10 Brambling  over. The Redwing are beautiful in the hand and are easy to age once Paul went through the key features.

And Sunday morning I went along to Wanstead flats to see the superb Rustic Bunting found by Nick Croft. A London/Essex  tick having seen one on the Scillies a few years back. It showed nicely and I did photograph it but if you want to see some very good images of it go to Jono's blog - they're very good.

Below are images from Saturday's session.


Great spotted Woodpecker

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Survey work

Went over to Kent Saturday morning with Paul to do a bird survey at Halstow Marshes.  Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tits, Raven. Little Owl, Corn Bunting and Great White Egret were the highlights in the autumn sunshine. Wader numbers were low but expected for the time of year.

Great White Egret

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Great white Egret

With the day booked  off work I was up and out early as it was just getting light. Redwings were dropping in and Chaffinches called above along with Meadow Pipits. It felt good and it didn't take long to feel really good when a Great white Egret went west over the viewing area at 7.39am. With the camera in my bag and set on silent single shot for the recent ringing session, it wasn't easy to get a record shot. However, I still managed something in the mad rush.

Some 22 minutes later Jono at Wanstead had a GWE go west too, which is no doubt the same bird carrying on its journey.

This is my second self found GWE on the patch with the first one being back in 2006 - they were rare then....

Others birds seen were 6 Grey Partridge, 2 Egyptian Geese, Blackcap and 2 Coal Tit plus 100 Redwing.

GWE and some Parakeets.

Saturday 6 October 2018


Saturday morning ringing at the east London site with Paul produced 38 new birds and 8 retraps.

22 Blue Tit
11 Great Tit
6 Long-tailed Tit
1 Chaffinch
1 Robin
1 Wren
1 Dunnock
2 Chiffchaff
1 Jay 

The highlight was ringing the monster Adult (4) Jay and also extracting more birds under the watchful eye of Paul.

iPhone image of the Jay

Sunday 30 September 2018

Another cracking morning in Hertfordshire yesterday ringing with Paul Roper, Paul Hawkins, Louise and Sarah with the following birds ringed.

5 Meadow Pipit
8 Dunnock
2 Robin
1 Chiffchaff
1 Goldcrest
1 Coal Tit
42 Blue Tit
9 Great Tit
5 Chaffinch
12 Greenfinch
2 Goldfinch
3 Yellowhammer

A busy morning for the group, nice to ring my first Yellowhammer as did the other two trainees - stunning birds. Also, it was really good to extract a few more birds from the nets.


Sunday 23 September 2018


Saturday 15th September

 6am to 1pm ringing in Hertfordshire with Paul Roper, Paul Hawkins and Louise.

52 new birds ringed plus 22 retraps highlights being a good number of Greenfinch again Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Chaffinch and the fact that I started to extract a couple of  birds from the mist net.

Amongst all of this we had a flyover Red Footed Falcon that Paul Roper got onto first.  It only hung around for two minutes max? but enough for the four of us to ID and send  in a description of a immature Red foot.

Saturday 22nd September

6.15am to 11am at a east London site with Paul Hawkins produced the following ringing totals.

7 Meadow Pipit
2 Chiffchaff
1 Blackcap
1 Cetti's Warbler
4 Great Tit
2 Blue tit
3 Long tailed Tit
2 Dunnock

Catching the Meadow Pipits at this small site was really pleasing, wasn't a surprise as there was a steady passage going over but you've still got to catch them!

1cy Meadow Pipit


Monday 10 September 2018

Process and release

I picked up Paulboy at 5.15am Saturday morning and headed up to Hertfordshire for a morning session of mist netting with Paul Roper and Louise.

62 new birds ringed plus a few retraps. The highlights were 18 Greenfinch, Blackcap,Chaffinch and being able to ring my first Starling, Coal Tit, Meadow Pipit and Goldcrest. The Goldcrest weighed 4.8g that's less than a 20p coin! Add in a point blank view of a Tawny Owl sitting on a post by the roadside topped off a superb morning......

Meadow Pipit below taken with my iPhone.

Tuesday 4 September 2018


On Friday 31st August I went out Paul Roper, Rob and Louise ringing at the Broxbourne site. With 85 new birds ringed it was a successful early morning session. Highlights were 35 Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroat, Kingfisher (juv) and a Treecreeper. The Treecreeper is a ringing tick and are tiny in the hand.

This image was taken with my iPhone below.



Along with Long, Great and Blue Tits, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin, Wren it was a varied catch.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Saturday and Sunday

Went out  onto the patch Saturday afternoon on my bike to try and twitch the Whinchat on the Ingrebourne hill that some of the lads had in the morning. Due to being at work till 2pm and not getting on site by 3.30pm the Whinchat had moved on. However, 4 Spotted  Flycatcher, Wheatear and a patch tick Tree Pipit made amends for missing the chat (113).

Sunday morning I was back out ringing with Paul Hawkins in London. I ringed 14 new birds which covered 10 species.

Great Tit 
Long tailed Tit 2
Willow Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Blue Tit
Cetti's Warbler 2
Reed Warbler 3
Common Whitethroat

Cetti's Warbler


Friday 24 August 2018

The King and I

A pre-work ringing session on Tuesday morning with Paul R and Louise produced 45 birds at a private site in Broxbourne.  25 Blackcap, Juvenile Kingfisher, 2 Cetti's Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit and a Blackbird were ringed. We also had a re trapped Adult Kingfisher. 

 Two of the Blackcaps had ticks on their foreheads, which Paul carefully removed- something I've never seen before.

The highlight for me was to handle both Kingfishers and ring the Juvenile Kingfisher. Normally I just get  a flash of blue whizz past but to see one in the hand and to ring it's short, muddy orange coloured leg was a real high.

Look at the beautiful wing detail

Saturday 18 August 2018

In the net

Just 4 new birds ringed on Tuesday evening after work with Paul H. 2 Great Tit, Willow Warbler and a Blackcap all  Juveniles. However, Saturday morning was much better with 11 new birds ringed and 1 retrap. All Juveniles again, they were Song thrush, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap x 2, Common Whitethroat and Reed Warbler x 7.

 Common Whitethroat

 Lesser Whitethroat

Reed Warbler

Some birds maybe common migrants but to see them up close in detail is just fascinating I'm really enjoying being a T' permit holder.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Four more from Verde

Here's one of the Bar-tailed Larks that showed nicely in the dusty car park whilst we toured around the island on a 4x4 jeep excursion.

Juvenile Kentish Plover 

Male Kentish Plover

Photographing the above Plovers at low level was a real highlight for me- just loved that evening!

Black-winged Stilt

Sunday 12 August 2018

In the mist

Here are a few images of a recent mist netting session with Paul H. New birds ringed by me were 11 Reed Warbler, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackbird. We also had two re- trapped Long-tailed Tits which Paul ringed back in January. 

Reed Warbler

Willow Warbler

Lesser Whitethroat

Tuesday 7 August 2018

More from Cape Verde

In the sand dunes in Cape Verde Black-crowned sparrow-larks were seen regularly throughout our 11 day stay. A flock of 20+ consisting of Juveniles and Adults showed really well most evenings.



Everyday  lago Sparrows were seen around the hotel.



Brown-necked Raven, Hoopoe Lark, Osprey, Whimbrel, Alpine Swift were also seen daily and Brown Bobby were seen most days too. Add in Cape Verde Swift, Alexanders Kestrel and Bar-tailed Lark plus a female Magnificent Frigatebird I got very lucky on our family holiday.

For more info on birding in Cape Verde visit Josh Jone's excellent blog that he wrote back in 2016 when he payed a visit.

Sunday 5 August 2018

Red Kite ringing success

Went ringing Saturday morning with Paul R, Rob and Louise and caught a good number of species before the heat became too much for the birds being processed. Wood Pigeon, Blackcap, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Wren and Green Finches were all scribed in the book. The highlights though were a yellow wing tagged Red Kite ringed by our group at a nest site this summer as a chick was trapped to prove successful fledging.

Our re trapped Red Kite above.

Just like Buses, another Red Kite came in but this young bird was unringed which I was over the moon to be able to ring my first one and Paul added the wing tag- an amazing experience!

Please report any sightings of the above as it's so important to the group-thanks....