Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A visit to the Lakes.

Me and Chris Bridge were in the Lake District today, so we decided to call into Bowness-on-Windermere to see whether we could snaffle anything to ring. Although the place was packed with tourists (good for PR!) enjoying this fabulous weather, the birds didn't seem that full from all the free handouts and we managed to bag 14 new birds & 4 recaps.

10 Canada Goose
1 Greylag Goose
2 Mute Swan
1 Coot (colour ringed of course!)

On the way back home, we teamed up with Steve & Jenny at one of our reed bed sites for an evening of mist netting. 30 birds caught, 27 new, 2 recap & 1 control.
Reed Warbler - 6 / 1 control (X091131)
Sedge Warbler - 4 / 1 recap
Whitethroat - 2
Willow Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 1
Blue Tit - 3
Dunnock - 2
House Sparrow - 1
Reed Bunting - 1

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ringing in the reeds.

Craig took over the monitoring of the Reed Warblers whilst I was away, so I was keen to get back into the reed bed to update the Nest Record Cards & to find new nests. So today Me & Chris headed in, to carry out the work.

24 Reed Warbler nests found at various stages (eggs, young, fledged).
25 pulli ringed + 2 adults and 5 adults recapped.
1 Sedge Warbler (recap), 1 Blue tit ringed + a brood of 4 Song Thrush.

Steve had noticed a brood of Coot at the reed bed and so I packed the colour rings & bread - just in case we got lucky! And we did - 3 out of the 6 grabbed & colour ringed! It seemed strange to be ringing Coot in warm weather & their feathers still being in pin! I'd like to try and catch more pulli Coot as there doesn't seem to be any information on natal dispersal for this species.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Coot do move!

View GC82235 in a larger map

Another good Coot movement came to light last week, nice to see some of the ringed Coots off doing something interesting!


ringed on 11/11/2008 - Southport Marine Lake, Lancs.

15/04/2010 - Hardwick Park, County Durham - 151 km

Friday, 25 June 2010


Ringing two pulli Barn Owls was on the jobs board for this evening at WWT Martin Mere. So as the centre started to empty from it's daily intake, we headed out onto the reserve in the Mule. The reserve staff use this powerful little buggy to get from one side of the reserve to the other, but when Freddy blocked our path, we soon realised how pathetic the mule looked in front of him!

Let me introduce you to Freddy -

Freddy along with his team of 90 rare breed cattle (and most have their own names!) are important members of the Reserve Team at Martin Mere. They form part of the Reserve Managment Plan, as they are ideal for grazing on wetlands. Their hoof marks leave perfect hollows in the ground for birds such as Lapwings & Redshank to nest in and they graze by leaving tuffs of grass which double up as shelter and safety for wader chicks.

After a good scratch on the mule, he allowed us to go and we could then carry on to the Barn Owl box!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

More from the gull colony.....

The nice job!

Tonight I headed up to Killington Reservoir with Craig & Chris to ring any remaining Black Headed Gull chicks. A great evening had - 110 new chicks ringed. We also took time out to search for dead birds carrying rings, a few found - inc one or two controls of adult birds.
The not so nice, smelly, disgusting job - taking rings off dead birds!

With tonights new birds, this now brings the total to 562 new birds ringed at Killington this year.

Luckily Killington sits right next to Killington motorway services on the M6 - a handy place to washdown after a successful ringing trip!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Looking for Logger Lómurs

I’m now sat in Keflavik airport, after spending a very enjoyable 3 weeks out in the field, mainly catching & ringing Red Throated Divers. Seeing as though my flight is not until another 6 hours – I thought doing a little blogging will pass time!

When I first found out that I would be participating in Diver research in Iceland this year, I thought it would be a nice change from working with Whooper Swans and that I’d also get to see parts of the country that I’d never visited before. Not just that but also capturing a species that I very rarely see, never mind handle! So I was pretty excited!

I landed in Iceland on 01st June where I met Ævar Petersen & Ib Krag Petersen at the airport, we stayed the night in Reykjavik, preparing food & equipment for the expedition – before heading off to Myrar on the west coast to catch Red Throated Divers.


Upon reaching Myrar one of the first jobs was to locate RTD nests and to see what stage of breeding the birds were at. However it seemed that the birds were later in laying eggs this year & some had been predated by Arctic Fox so we only managed to find a handful of nests containing eggs. It was decided that we would abandoned catching birds for a few days, and concentrate on taking egg biometrics & surveying a 30km square for nesting birds.



Having some spare time from trapping the Divers allowed us to track down a Raven’s nest & ring the pulli within – 3 chicks.


After the surveying of the 30km square was complete it was time to catch the RTDs from the nests that we had previously located.

The eggs in the nest were removed and placed into an incubator which sat in the back of the car, these were replaced by fake eggs – which made sure that the real eggs didn’t get damaged during the catching process.


Fake diver eggs.


Once the fake eggs were in place, the trap was set and we retreated back to the summer house – so that we could watch the adults returning back to the nest & trigger the trap (from a remote control).


and…….. a short while later we caught some Red Throated Divers!


The whole purpose of catching the Divers is so that Ævar & Ib can study where the birds are wintering. And to do this they are using small devices called data loggers, which can be fitted to small darvic rings. The loggers record the light intensity (of the location of the logger) along with date & time. Fantastic this is, however the only way of retrieving the data is to re-catch the bird & remove the logger!


Data loggers ready to be fitted.

It was thought that the birds where spending the winter off the coast of the UK (North Sea & Irish Sea) but data downloaded from the already retrieved loggers suggests that the birds are staying off the coast of Iceland, with some nearing Greenland.

On the 7th June, Jim Williams from the Orkney Ringing Group joined us in the field at Myrar. Jim has been catching & ringing RTDs on Orkney since 1978 and came to Iceland to show Ævar & Ib how he catches RTDs, using large wader nets.




Flatey I

After the RTD work had been completed I was suppose to travel north with Ib & Jim to help with Common Scoter catching, whilst Ævar met up with Sverrir Thorstensen on Flatey Island, but I was also needed on Flatey to help out with ringing & surveying of waders & seabirds. So on the 10th, along with Ævar & Sverrir – we travelled to Styikkisholmer to catch the Baldur ferry across to the island.


The ‘‘research vessel’’ or the ‘‘ship’’ as Sverrir calls it – being loaded off the Baldur ferry!

The trip to Flatey was very similar to last years visit, the only difference is that was in July – so it was nice to visit the island in June and see nests, eggs & small chicks from species that I ringed the pulli of last year.

The main job on Flatey was to check hundreds of nesting chambers for Black Guillemot nests. This forms part of Ævar’s project on the Black Guillemot (now in it’s 37th year!) of recording nest contents, ringing the adults & then ringing the chicks at a later date.


Often whilst searching for the Black Guillemots, we came across nesting Eiders & Mallard, which we attempted to catch the adults on the nest by using hand nets.


And the ducklings received rings too! It felt somewhat strange to be ringing 1 day old Mallard chicks! The Icelandic ringing scheme have developed a special ring that fit the ducklings.


Another one of the major jobs was to find as many Snipe nests as possible, so that we could record the nest contents, catch the adults on the nest & ring the chicks. By the end of the trip we had located 30 nests, ringed/recapped 17 adults & 31 chicks.


Once the surveying of the Black Guillemots & Snipe was complete, we could then begin to survey other nearby islands for other species – mainly Fulmar, Puffin & Shag.


As you can see we like to camouflage ourselves when doing this!

Throughout the 11 days – 471 birds were caught of 18 species, 361 new & 110 recaps.

Ringed Plover290
Black Tailed Godwit30
Red Necked Phalarope111
Arctic Tern41
Black Guillemot619
Meadow Pipit430
White Wagtail330
Snow Bunting50
For more photos from this trip, see here
Thanks to Ævar, Sverrir, Ib & Jim.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Black Headed Gull ringing.

Steve headed up to Killington Reservoir in Cumbria last week, for the annual trip to ring Black Headed Gull chicks. With the help from Craig, Will Price, Ian Gardner & Robin Sellers – they managed to catch & ring 452 birds.

Black Heads 063

Thanks to Fred Gould, Sam Birch (BTO) & British Waterways for their helpful assistance & advice. And thanks to all the ringers involved.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Postcard from Iceland.

Thought I’d post some pictures whilst I’ve got access to WiFi. I’m currently on the ferry heading back to the mainland, after a ringing trip on Flatey Island.

The visit to Flatey wasn’t on my schedule for this trip to Iceland, but plans changed slightly and we’ve just completed an 11 day trip to the Island ringing seabirds & waders.






Red Necked Phalarope

P1050599 Snipe




Black Guillemot



More when I get back home in a few days :-)