Mar 02 2021

Bird Ringing at Langley Vale Wood

Written by Karl D. Tarratt

Bisham Barn Owl Group
Middle Thames Bird Conservation Trust
Runnymede Ringing Group

 

We started the year by installing four boxes, Barn owl, Tawny owl, Little owl and Kestrel at various locations across the site.

 

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Lapwing returned to 40 Arces in mid-April and were soon engaged in courtship behaviour. Over the next few weeks four pairs were spotted in and around 40 Acres.

 

The first sitting female was noted on the 30th April (nest 1), another on the 4th May (nest 2), and a third on the 24th May (nest 3). All three nests where located and all found to have four eggs each, measurements were made and hatch dates predicted.

 

I return to the nest sites daily, a few days prior to each predicted hatch date to observe behaviour, I was able to observe the tell-tale signs that the eggs had hatched at two of the nest sites (nest 2 & 3) and followed up with a visit to each and ringed four chicks at each nest. Initially, nest 1 looked to be abandoned but on closer inspection, after the chicks had dispersed the area, I found egg fragments indicative of a successful outcome.

 

Nest no. No. Eggs No. Hatched Chicks Ringed
1 4 4? 0
2 4 4 4
3 4 4 4

 

Lapwing chicks. Photo credit K Tarratt

 

Nest boxes

I installed various small nest boxes in 2011 when what is now part of Langley Vale Wood was still part of Langley Bottom farm. This year they are included within LVW ringing activities.

There are 11 boxes installed, with a mixture of 25mm & 28mm size entrance holes.

All eleven boxes were initially occupied, 10 produced eggs, with nine going on to fledge chicks, 72 in total, Blue tit 65, Great tit 7.

 

Barn owl (Tyto alba)

It was very pleasing to find that a pair of BO had taken up residence so soon after box installation. I made my first visit to the box in early May after spotting an adult leave the tree in which the box is located. I used a thermal camera which registered a heat source indicative of BO.  I returned a couple of weeks later and found two healthy owlets, both were ringed and subsequently fledged a few weeks later.

Barn Owl Owlets. Photo credit to Karl Tarratt

Autumn migration

A few migratory species of bird are spotted on LVW each autumn, most hirundine species (Swallows, House Martins etc) usually pass over at some point, Wheatear are usually seen on passage too, this year however there was a small influx of Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola). Stonechat are partial to mealworm and can be drawn to a small net trap, using this method I was able to catch and ring 11 birds. As of writing, three of these have stayed on site.

 

Many thanks to all the LVW volunteers who helped me with box installation and monitoring throughout the year.

 

Thanks also to Rob Carr and RSPB Epsom for funding the raptor boxes.

 

 

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