Jim, Duncan, Simon, Lorna, Erin and myself put 2 mist nets up near Home Farm at Brack in the hope of trapping House Sparrows to PIT tag. The PIT tags are integrated into plastic leg rings, very similar to colour rings, that are positioned on the left leg of the bird. Once the tag is in place the birds identity can be recognised by electronic ‘readers’ which can be positioned at bird feeders or in nest boxes. As part of a long-term project monitoring House Sparrows at Nottingham Trent University we are hoping to monitor them coming to bird feeders to look at aspects of feeding ecology such as frequency and timing of visits in relation to environmental conditions, and dominance interactions. They are notoriously difficult to trap in mist nets (unless they live in Jim’s back garden!) and even harder to re-trap, but hopefully we will PIT tag enough to give us an insight into their behaviour.
We ended up catching 6 House Sparrows and a lot of tits – not too bad really! Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 3/1, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 7/0, Blue Tit 19/1, Great Tit 10/1 and House Sparrow 5/1. The highlight was the retrapped House Sparrow that was originally ringed as a nestling about 30 metres away in 2013.
Jim, Kev, Gary, Duncan and myself put nets up at Brackenhurst down by the feeders. Although the feeders were empty when we arrived, lots of birds had been spotted feeding at the site the afternoon before. It was another very cold morning, so a good catch was made. Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 0/1, Robin 2/2, Blackbird 0/1, Blue Tit 3/2, Great Tit 3/2, House Sparrow 5/0, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 1/2 and Yellowhammer 18/4 (which always seem to appear in larger numbers after Christmas). The highlight was a Yellowhammer ringed as an adult in 2013.
Another cold morning - Jim, Esther and I put 3 mists nets up near Home Farm to try to trap more House Sparrows. We had a slightly later start of 9am but this doesn’t seem to affect the House Sparrow catch as they appear to have a lie-in until then anyway! We had another good catch of tits, and didn’t do too badly with the sparrows either – slowly does it! Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 2/3, Robin 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 4/6, Blue Tit 9/7, Great Tit 1/1 and House Sparrow 8/1. The highlight was a Blue Tit that was ringed as a juvenile bird at the ringing site in 2010!
House Sparrow with PIT tag (L. Gentle)