Spotlight on Stanford

At the moment Stanford Reservoir is looking good. Very good. I spent this morning there with the Stanford Ringing Group, during which time 104 birds were trapped – although 28 of these were local retraps. As well as local breeders, many of those caught were autumn migrants with Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats predominating, although there were reasonable numbers of Willow Warblers, a few Chiffchaffs and a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and Reed Warblers. From next week just about all of the warblers trapped will be migrants. Two Treecreepers provided a great opportunity for close, in-hand scrutiny of their intricate plumage detail, which also enabled them to be confidently aged. The best bird trapped, however, was a Northern Wheatear, which is only the second ever to be ringed at Stanford (the other was on 5th September 1982) and, as

Juvenile Northern Wheatear, Stanford Res, 27th August 2011 (Mike Alibone)

such, caused a not undue amount of excitement among the members of the SRG! This individual was a juvenile and the black lesser and median coverts – along with some grey just visibly appearing on the scapulars – sex this as a male. It’s worth mentioning that the SRG will, for a small donation, organise ‘demo days’ in order to raise funds now that their previous funding has recently been withdrawn. By the way, rings now cost 20p each and the group is responsible for its own finances. With mist-nets costing in the region of £100 each ringing is not an inexpensive activity!

The water level at the reservoir itself is very low, almost resembling a small estuary, and the habitat there is proving a massive draw for waders. Among today’s haul were Knot, Spotted Redshank – initially found by Mark Piper – 7 Greenshanks, 11 Ringed Plovers, 2 Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and, together with Dave Warner, I counted a total of 18 Ruff – a tremendous figure for Northamptonshire in recent years.

My thanks to SRG’s John Cranfield, Mike Townsend, Adam Homer, Ed Tyler and Debbie for their jovial and instructive company this morning.

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