A record of my adventures of birds and bird ringing

Monday, 7 March 2011

The Wash, a new job

I realised when I came around to updating this that I completely missed posting about the last wash trip - we caught 238 Sanderling on Heacham beach. A very nice catch, although none of the geolocater birds were caught. Next wash weekend is in a fortnight but I'm not sure if I will be able to make it because I have a new job!

The RSPB are hiring me as a research assistant, looking (loosely) at the impacts of windfarms on Golden Plover. This involves radio tracking Golden Plover, habitat surveying and a lot of transects. Given that I'll have to be walking 20-25km a day, it's going to be pretty hard work but a lot of fun. I'm also now on the look out for anyone in scotland who does interesting ringing for my days off(!)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Windy days

The wind was too high to attempt catching again, but I filled the feeders up anyway - the fat ball that went up after dark on thursday had been completely consumed by friday lunchtime!

The wash trip a few weekends ago was a good success - 177 Oystercatchers on the Saturday morning (all of a good mass) and 2 oystercatchers and a knot on Sunday. These Oystercatchers were not in such good condition, weighing far less (although obviously the sample size was small and a pair of Peregrines had chased most of the birds off the beach by the time we fired). We also found a dead oystercatcher on the beach with the sharpest keel imaginable! It displayed arrested moult (where the bird has stopped growing feathers half way through its moult and instead retains its old ones) - leaving us in little doubt that this bird had starved to death.

There has been interesting research on waders collected by ringers* during harsh winters. Some waders (such as Grey Plover) weigh less on capture compared to a 'normal' year - they appear to be struggling to find food resources enough to put on enough weight. Other waders (e.g. Dunlin) instead increase their mass in colder weather - if they put on more mass then they are at a lower risk of starvation.

I am looking for some wader and/or seabird ringing for this spring/summer - please let me know if you've heard of anything. Must not be too expensive and preferably last more than a month.

*from WWRG - I'm not sure exactly who but I'm sure it includes the Clarks, Phil Ireland and Jen Smart amongst others

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Roudsea (back home)

I arrived in Cumbria at my mother's house on tuesday afternoon, after a relatively painless 6 hour journey. This morning I went ringing with my trainer (Jim) at Roudsea - report on the 01229 ringing group page, along with photos!

Tomorrow I'm off to the wash (at last!) for some long awaited wader ringing.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

New years' catch

We got back yesterday after spending new year in Istanbul, immediately filled the feeders and then waited for the birds to realise there was food available (getting up at 7 is not a problem when you're still in a time zone 2 hours ahead!).

Putting the net up this morning but it was a little bit of a disaster - first the guys didnt reach quite far enough, then the net wasnt tense enough, the pegs didnt go into the ground properly, the net fell over (which of course led to some time leaf extracting). Finally (about 10 mins later than I would have liked) I got the net up. Typically, the next thing that happened was that a pigeon flew into the net, bounced, and this somehow managed to snap one of the guys so that the net fell over again...

After all that we only got a handful of birds - 3 bluti, 1 greti and a nuthatch (who was beautiful). I think I will wait a few days so that more birds find the feeder before catching again.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

First catch

By yesterday the snow had finally melted enough to make a catch feasible, and after a week of feeding the birds were very familiar with the feeder!

Nets were up by 7.15, and by 8.15 I had started catching.

Suprisingly almost all of the birds had entered the net on their way to the feeders (I had though they would go in on the way from the feeders to the bushes as the net was far less visible that way) so I think they were quite used to flying in for a morning snack.

All in all we caught 24 birds, including a Chaffinch, two Coal Tits, and many great/blue tits.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Update.. finally!

It's been a while since I've posted but there's been not much to post about.

Since moving here I've tried to get in touch with the local ringing group, but havent had much luck. I have also been scared of approaching the landlord about permission to ring in the garden because I'm not technically a tennant. The situation is also complicated by the fact that the garden is overlooked by a boarding house which is occupied most of the time by school kids. In addition to having no car (and so being unable to find myself another site), this has ment I havent been able to ring on my own for a while.

But I plucked up the courage to ask and I have permission to put up a net. I really wish I'd done this earlier! I put feeders out today, and although I'm not planning to catch whilst the snow lasts, it should give the birds some time to find the food.

In other news, the Christmas WWRG trip has been cancelled, which is very disappointing. I would have loved to spend Christmas catching waders. Still, I might be able to spend Christmas morning catching passerines instead now!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

All things change

I think this summer can reliably be called 'the summer of no internet'. I've moved into a new house (after spending a few weeks dashing between friends and the Wash for some cannon netting) and am currently using the library computers whilst we wait to get a line installed (yes, there are still houses without phone lines!)

In the meantime I'm exploring the park behind our house for possible net rides, but it's all mature woodland and open grassland, and doesnt look very hopeful. There are sections of less mature woodland but it's very densely packed and not net suitable. Ah well - I might still find something. I've contacted the local ringing group and am waiting to hear back from them, so hopefully I'll be able to do some ringing soon.