A record of my adventures of birds and bird ringing

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Nest Boxes

I've been vaguely aware of a nest box or two around college during the past year, but suddenly all my ringing friends are busy ringing pulli (chicks) and I remember that I, too, have a pullus endorsement. Albeit very restricted. So last Thursday I wandered all over the grounds in a desperate attempt to find as many as possible, and see if any of them have birds in them.

One interesting thing I've noted is that people interested in birds often do not put bird things where I (as a ringer) would. The nest boxes were all (with the possible exception of one or two) out of the range of even the longest ladder. Speaking to the gardeners I learn that one of them (Phil) put them up a few years back, with his climbing harness and has since regretted it a bit because they havent been able to clean them from year to year. Not put off (much) by the lack of possibilities, I focus my attention on the 2 in reach. One has nesting GRETI, the other appears to be empty.

Another thing I've noticed is the complete lack of sense in people, or rather, the complete presence of health and safety legislation. I wasnt allowed to borrow a ladder from the maintenence department due to this. Fair enough, I suppose, from their point of view, but hugely frustrating for me!!!

So I went back to talk to the gardeners, who then said there might be one or two reachable boxes on the sides of various buildings. I tried them, two were empty and the rest I couldnt open (fixed slate roofs or similar). Which is another example of non-ringer thinking! One of my friends knows the location of a wrens nest in the next door college but even if I could get permission it isnt on my license, so I think I'm going to have to leave the pulli for this year.

In other news: I have a theoretically squirrel proof feeder! It works on a weight principle (squirrels will cause a cover to go over the open bird-standy-on bits). We'll see how squirrel proof it is - I dont trust those beasties one bit!

Sunday, 19 April 2009


I've got the nets up today, first time in ages. Metcheck has been really bad lately, I've woken up (either intentionally or not) with the vague idea of going ringing but it's been raining. When it's promised me clear weather! (well, nicely overcast in any case). So I gave myself a lie-in today and put the nets up after I eventually got up. The problem today is sun, so I haven't caught anything so far, and I don't really expect to. There's also one of those annoying breezes that ruffles the net up at one end, making it eminently more visible.

So I've set myself the task of maintaining the feeders. This really shouldn't be much of a task, as I only have 4 out, one of which is an amazing metal contraption that needs hardly any attention. But of the other 3, I had to spend hours first getting them down from the trees as they're higher than I can reach (I can only just reach them standing on a chair), then finding the bird-standing-on-things. Don't know what they're called, but the squirrels not only insist on chewing the edges and occasionally knocking them to the ground (which I solved with the aid of a moderate amount of copper wire), but also to remove these bits and scatter them in the undergrowth. Especially now that it's spring and there's a large amount of growing things, they are hard to find. Why do people make them green?????? A nice red would stand out and also let the birds know where the feeders are!

After only managing to find 2 of the 4 missing things-which-the-bird-stands-on, I took them all inside and taped up the feeders with a large amount of duct tape. There. That'll show those damn squirrels. Now to see if I've caught anything yet.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Back in Cambridge!

Back in Cambridge, after a small stop off near the Ashdown forest. Beautiful woods there, and lots of birdwatchers (which is one indicator I use for good birds!!). Hopefully I'll be ringing back in my little patch tomorrow morning.

I got another amazingly cool ringing tick the other day. I was out with my trainer (Jim), and we were each manning separate sites when I got a call over the walky-talky. They were just about out of range so I heard a 'crackle crackle ringed crackle jay?'


'Well you better come over here then!!' (me having walked into range by this point). So I ran back to Jim's station and there in the bag was a fantastically beautiful Jay, a lot more chestnut than I'd expected with the brightest blue imaginable. Has to be one of my top 5 ringing ticks!!! Pictures at maalie.blogspot.com (Jim's website).

In other news, one of my nets has a big hole in! Not sure how it happened but I suspect it was a blackbird, because there was a blackbird in that section of the net that tried (and succeeded) in escaping. Although I didnt really think they were that capable of causing holes. Another trip to the BTO headquarters is in order to get some mending material, and also I'd like another net set so that I can leave one at home and not have to worry about transporting them.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Picture of a wren-beast I caught yesterday, which today I caught again. This is the 3rd re-trap out of 6 birds ringed in total in the veg-plot area of the garden.

The one really interesting thing about the veg-plot area is that the birds around there seem to have routines. One morning I caught a house sparrow, and in the afternoon a blackbird. The next day the same thing happened, same birds, same locations in the net, similar timings.

Aside from that, catching is slow. I might move the net tomorrow and see if I can catch more down by the stream. At least the net wont be silhouetted against buildings there!