The Dark Room

Sunday 7 November 2021

Thermal survey

After navigating the M25 last Friday afternoon I finally made it Matt Prior in Swindon to do a thermal imaging survey on three farms on the Marlborough Downs. As before we checked the farmers fields for Skylark and Corn Bunting. We ringed 12 Skylark and 1 Corn Bunting the latter was was the 100th to be coloured ringed for Matt's project! 2 Barn Owl and a Kestrel was noted and 2 stunning Adult Tawny Owls were ringed.
image by MP
Corn Bunting Thanks to Matt for letting ring all the birds.

Saturday 30 October 2021

Shetland 2021

Since arriving back from Shetland a few weeks ago I thought it's time I better update my blog. I joined Paul Hawkins, Andy Lawson, Martin Blow and Tony Brown from the 1st - 8th October for my first ever visit. As a group we done well finding our own birds with Little Bunting (PH) Greenish Warbler and Common Rosefinch (AL) and I chipped in with a Red-eyed Vireo! That was a amazing moment for me and the group.
And if you add in the list of birds seen over the week plus 3 Otter and the Monarch Butterfly and the Aurora Borealis you can see, we really did had a fabulous week. 2nd October * Red-backed Shrike * Woodchat Shrike * Eastern Yellow Wagtail 3rd October * Semipalmated Sandpiper * Shorelark * Little Bunting * Olive-backed Pipit * Western Bonelli's Warbler 4th October * King Eider * Red-breasted Flycatcher * 2 Red-eyed Vireo 5th October * Olive-backed Pipit * White-billed Diver * Radde's Warbler 6th October * Rustic Bunting * Greenish Warbler 7th October * Common Rosefinch And 10 Yellow-browed Warblers, Jack Snipe, Pied and Spot flycatchers. RBF
Rustic Bunting
Monarch Butterfly

Monday 20 September 2021

In Wiltshire

I was invited down to Salisbury plain by Matt Prior on the 14th September for some survey work and mist netting. So after work on Tuesday I drove down and cracked on straight away with surveying Skylark on the farmland. Using a technique I've only used once before - but Matt is very good at it! We trapped and ringed 10 Skylark, Corn Bunting and a Meadow Pipit which was a very good return. After only having a few hours of sleep in the back of my car I went out with some of Matt's ringing team. 123 birds were ringed and 1 control. Highlights were Whinchat, 2 Stonechat, 3 Grasshopper Warbler and good numbers of Meadow Pipit. The landscape is just amazing as is the habitat. I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot - thanks Matt.......
Skylark 3j

Monday 30 August 2021

Site first

This Common Redstart (code 3 male) was trapped and ringed at our little site on 21st August with PH. It's our first for the site.
Numbers are down from last year probably due to a late spring? but we'll have to see and look at the total figures at the end of the autumn. What's also interesting is the large amount of fault bars we're seeing in young birds due to that wet weather we had earlier in the spring. So, with our time split between two sites Walthamstow Wetlands and ours over the past few months the former has come to a end as we've finshed the CES. It's been fun and some good solid data has been collected. On 29th our final CES 12, we had this Juv Grasshopper Warbler and again this was a first of the site to be ringed.
Also while we were processing birds at the ringing table we had 3 Great white Egret fly north.

Sunday 22 August 2021

Pied Flycatcher

Looking out from the conservatory window this morning at my mist net half way down the garden I saw the first bird of the session drop into the top panel. Wow! I did't expect to find a immature male Pied Flycatcher in there. A superb bird for any garden or ringing site in greater London but my garden - well chuffed.
The session finished as it normally does for the garden Robin, Great Tit, 3 LTT and a handfull of Blue Tits.

Friday 9 July 2021

Spoon and Stork

 Went over to Rainham Marshes last Saturday afternoon and missed the Great white Egret and the White Stork but did see the Spoonbill asleep from the Serin mound. But late Sunday evening the White Stork showed really well from road near the tip entrance.

Sunday 4 July 2021

Colour ringing

 On Wednesday with the NTGG we made our second visit of the season out to the tern rafts by boat. With 50 Black-headed Gull pulli ringed on our first visit it was good to add another 21 along with 9 Common Tern pulli which were all ringed and coloured ring as part of the ongoing project.


Common Tern

Black-headed Gull

Sunday 27 June 2021

Rolling back the years

 Yesterday afternoon I went to Icklingham in Suffolk to see the popular European Roller which showed really well, actually stunningly well. I haven't twitched for a while now but with my wife and daughter with me it was like we were rolling back the years when they would be happy to come out for a day. Ok, I did treat them to a lovely lunch in the near by pub the Guinness Arms- which is really nice if you're out that way.


With most of my time I'm out ringing it was nice to dust off the scope and camera!

Monday 5 April 2021


 Last week I went out with a small team from the Southern colour ringing group to check on the Herons at Netherhall. With 25 active nests and 8 birds ringed and colour ringed and some early Little Egrets nest counted, it was a very productive morning out.



All images are taken with the iPhone

Sunday 7 March 2021

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

 Enjoyed good views of a female LSW this morning and just a couple of miles away from my home made even better. Although she spent her time high in the canopy and was seen and heard drummimg away it's a real treat to see this  Amber listed species on our door step. Not great images below however it's a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker!

Nuthatch and Treecreeper were seen along with GSW and GW and probably best of all was to hear Redwings singing again - it just reminded me of my time spent in Iceland a few years ago with JL.

Monday 25 January 2021

Full fat

Opened up the net in the garden on Saturday morning for a nice morning session 8 Goldfinch (7 2cy & 1 Ad) plus Female Blackbird and a Female Starling was good but bird of the day was a full fat garden tick Egyptian Goose that flew over calling!


Male Goldfinch

Tuesday 12 January 2021


Due to the lockdown rules I'm back ringing in my garden for the next few weeks/months - who knows how long for? But to be honest, I do enjoy it and it will be good to study the data in the future.

Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Starling and 6 Goldfinch are the latest birds to be ringed. Not large numbers but still a good turn over of new birds on Sunday afternoon. Below are some cropped images taken with the iPhone.

Male 2cy Starling

Male Goldfinch 2cy

Monday 4 January 2021

Siberian Chiffchaff

 Here are some images of the Siberian Chiffchaff I found at Beckton creekmouth on Sunday morning 3rd January . I heard a peep call first but couldn't find a bird to fit the call other than a few Common Chiffchaff and a glimpse of a pale Chiffy. After a good search along the path I carried on birding checking the large group of Gulls feeding on the working tip near the creekmouth. A quick chat to Brian Anderson - nice to meet you btw for the  first time about the pale Chiff and not seeing any Caspian Gulls, we went our seperate ways and I carried on checking the Chiff's on the way back to my car and then this little gem popped up along the wall on the sewage works side with Common Chiffchaffs about 11 in total.