Saturday, 26 February 2011

Rindle Road Ringing.


On a not so sunny Saturday morning, several of us met on Astley Moss SSSI for our last mist netting session at the site for the winter. Unfortunately there was quite a breeze whipping around & a slight drizzle, which nearly put an end to the mornings session. However it quickly dried up & the wind dropped slightly, which allowed us to carry on catching.

The mornings ringing produced totals of 10 Yellowhammer, 6 Tree Sparrow, 1 Willow Tit, 2 Great Tit, 2 Reed Bunting, 1 Chaffinch and 1 Greenfinch.

Due to the morning not being particularly busy, there was plenty of opportunity for the trainees in the group to practice extracting and processing birds.

For another account of the days activities please see Zac’s blog

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Wader Weekend with SCAN.

I was back in Bangor this weekend with Chris to take part in SCAN ringing group’s last cannon net weekend of the winter. The weekends activities kicked off on Saturday morning, where we met before dawn at Llanfairfechan, aiming to catch the priority species being Dunlin & Redshank.

Two teams quickly got to work in setting three nets, before it was time for the high tide to take it’s role in the operation, by pushing the birds closer to the nets. A bit of expert twinkling by Richard, Chris & Rachel, helped to push more birds into the catching area.


Nicely coordinated by Steve, who was in constant radio contact with the twinklers, they pulled of a nice mixed catch of Redshank (27) and Dunlin (68). A good number of helpers & ringers ensured the catch was quickly brought under control & birds taken out of the net and away ready to be processed.


Soon after more Redshank landed perfectly in front of the other cannon net and we made another catch of 47 Redshank, bringing this sessions total to 74 Redshank & 68 Dunlin.


Once all the birds had been extracted from the nets and placed in holding pens, ringing & biometric teams were organised & ringing commenced.




Richard & Dave demonstrating bird ringing to birders & members of the public…

Once all the ringing had been completed, we packed up & arranged to meet back onsite at 7pm for an evening of mist netting in the shallow lagoons. We erected 7 nets under a clear & beautiful nights sky and throughout the evening we caught 28 Redshank, 2 Dunlin & a very smart Greenshank. Packing up at 00:00 we arranged to meet at 8am to set nets in Beaumaris – catching 4 Ringed Plover & 1 Dunlin.

P1000447 P1000444

Many thanks as always to Steve & the team for such an enjoyable weekend….

Friday, 11 February 2011

Caerlaverock Swan Catch.

This morning we all gathered in the hide that over looks the Whooper pond at Caerlaverock, for the 11am swan feed. It was obvious that we could potentially pull off a good catch, as the reserve warden – Emma went out to do the feed, there were around 200 Whooper Swans, amongst other wildfowl eagerly awaiting their elevenses!


One of the great things to experience at a Caerlaverock catch is seeing the actual catch take place. Whereas at other centres we are often hidden and don’t see the birds until we run into the pipe, to help bring the catch under control.


As Emma headed up the swan pipe the birds followed as they routinely do three times a day, every day and we waited until the catch organiser felt that we had enough birds to cope with and then……. 3, 2, 1 Brian released the door & made a catch.


The above photo is during the initial drive when we form a human line in the water, to try and get most of the birds to the top of the pipe. We successfully managed to pen all the birds during the first drive, so another push wasn’t needed.


Now the birds have been slowly driven to the top of the pipe, we split them up into more smaller manageable groups.



The birds then wait in the pens, an area were only a few people have access to, this minimises the stress. Once the birds have been sexed, they get placed into jackets and brought to the processing tables.

P1000281Three ringing stations manned by Larry, Steve & Ciaran made sure that the processing line flowed nicely & ringing done quickly before the birds met Julia, Sheila & me on the biometric table. 


Sheila Stubbs (above) expertly scribed our measurements onto paper, often under pressure at times but provided a neat set of sheets ready for the data input team! Actually I must say it was great to be working alongside one of the people who helped kick-start my interest in Whooper Swans! Thanks Sheelz!

In total we caught 147 Whooper Swans of which 96 were new birds & 49 recaps. Also 70 Mute Swan, 6 Canada Geese & 1 Wigeon managed to get caught, making this one of Caerlaverock’s biggest swan catches!

Equipment all packed up it was time for a cuppa & bite to eat after a very successful catch. As the centre closed down & the Slimbridge team headed back south, I stayed up at Caerlaverock for the weekend. This was to help Sheila in sorting out the ringed families, something that can only be done by intensively watching the birds after the swan catch.


It was somewhat encouraging to see that the day after, perhaps with a little hesitation, the birds were back up the pipe, feeding as usual and seemingly unfazed by yesterday’s operation.


Both birds underneath the red arrow were caught in the swan catch and feeding in the pipe the day after!


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Martin Mere Swan Catch.

Up bright & early this morning for the annual round-up of Whooper Swans at WWT Martin Mere. Despite the weather not looking to great at the start of the week, we couldn't have asked for a better day - as the swan catch went ahead under blue skies & shining sun!!

The team gathered for the 8am swan feed & after a small delay due to ducks not entering the pipe, the door was released capturing 76 Whooper Swans, 4 Greylag & 77 Duck - Mallard, Pochard, Pintail, Wigeon, Shelduck and 3 Coot.

Whilst we were waiting for the duck to enter the pipe, there were around 200 Whooper Swans up there! Too many for a catch, so while we waited for some duck, this allowed some of the swans to exit the pipe, and leave us with a manageable number.

Thanks to all involved for making today's catch run very smoothly. Also thanks to our scribe for the day - Estelle Walsh - smashing job!

We're now at WWT Caerlaverock on the Solway Firth, preparing for another swan catch tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Quick post tonight…

At Lake Windermere today trying to catch Black Headed Gulls for the start of a new project, however we failed & didn’t catch a single bird. To be honest we only saw around 5 birds at Bowness – on - Windermere, which is quite strange! But for the lack of gulls, a stunning female Goosander made up for them!




Saturday, 5 February 2011

Blogging from Bangor.

Myself, Ciaran & Craig travelled to Bangor last night, for a weekend of cannon-netting with Chris, Zac and the SCAN RG. The forecast for the weekend looked dreadful, what with strong winds & heavy rain greeting us in sunny Wales. However a gap in weather allowed us to set two cannon-nets in Bangor Harbour, catching several duck and a handful of waders.

Thanks to Hamza for transporting us around, the good laugh & helping us to dry our clothes!

16 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 5 Turnstone & 1 Redshank caught today. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us tomorrow, to possibly allow for another catch. Thanks to both Steve & Rachel and rest of the team for having us along...