Tuesday 29 November 2011

Welcome back 2A00!

Thanks to Peter Bainbridge I finally received the news that I’d been waiting for, that ‘our boy’ 2A00 has returned back to Bowness-on-Windermere after spending the spring & summer in Oslo, Norway. Just 23 days after ringing, 2A00 was sighted by Morten Helberg in Norway and throughout the summer 2A00 has been seen and photographed at several places in Oslo.


The Migration Atlas suggests that UK wintering Black-headed Gulls appear to be very site-faithful. Studies in London (Widgery 1970, Christmas 1986, Gosling 1988) have shown that birds use the same feeding & resting sites over several years, irrespective of the age of the bird or the countries from which they originated from.

With 2A00 being the first bird we darvic’d as part of this project, we’re very fond of him! Up to now we’ve only darvic ringed 6 adults and three of these have been seen since ringing. This goes to show how useful these rings are and any darvic rings on any species can be reported to www.ring.ac

Ciaran is home very soon, so I’m rather looking forward to getting out with him and starting to catch some more adult birds as part of this project.

Whilst I’m on about a gull species. Luka Jurinovic has asked me to post a link to the up and coming International Gull Meeting taking place in Croatia in February. For more details of this, please visit here.

Thanks to Carsten Lome for the above photo.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Crazy for CANGOs!

Gillian & myself are just back from an aborted SCAN session, where we joined Zac & Matthew Bruce and the rest of the team in Bangor Harbour this morning. It was an early start for us all this morning as we set the nets in the dark and retreated away and hid in the bushes (!) out of view of any peering eyes as the high tide started to push good numbers of Redshank, Dunlin & Shelduck up towards the catching area.


Unfortunately, however – something spooked the birds, possibly a female Peregrine that was hunting Black Headed Gulls nearby & the birds didn’t come back in time for us to fire into a suitable catching area, as the high tide had reached it’s highest point, we decided to call it a morning & pack away the gear.

We then left for Manchester calling in at Abergele on the way back where we managed to read two Black Headed Gull rings – EG41185 & EX43734 and impressively Zac managed to catch an adult bird (he’s been closely watching the master Black Headed Gull catcher – Ciaran – in action!).


Back in Manchester - Gillian & I decided to have a bit of a mad Canada Goose catch and just as the light was starting to fade we called it quits and finished the day on 50 new Canada Geese ringed! We also managed to catch 3 new Coot & 2 more Black Headed Gulls.



As Gillian was busy ringing the geese I was keeping the Black Headed Gulls around us entertained, by feeding them in closely. This allowed me to read several rings including a Finnish & Danish ringed bird. We also read the ring of EY02115 which sounded like a familiar ring sequence and especially with the ring being on the left leg. Upon arriving home we confirmed our suspicions that this was a Killington ringed chick that Zac ringed at the Cumbrian colony in June this year! 90km distance from Killington to the Manchester park.


Casting an eye over our 50th darvic ringed Coot!

Thanks to Zac for putting us both up for the evening! Good luck to the SCAN team for a more successful catch tomorrow! And finally it was great to meet new trainee Matthew Bruce during today's ringing events!

Thanks to Gillian for the above photos!

Monday 14 November 2011

Coot, Conference & Coal Tits!

As I type this I’m currently sat on a train at Edinburgh Waverly station, heading back to Manchester. Chris Bridge & I have had a long weekend up in Scotland with Gillian. We’ve been rather busy doing various things mainly attending the Scottish Ringers’ Conference but also we’ve colour ringed the first Scottish Coot!

Friday started early for Me & Chris as our train left Manchester Piccadilly at 5am. By 09:30 we were pulling into Linlithgow where we were greeted by Gillian in her wellies, old scrags and waterproofs and she quickly whisked us off to Linlithgow Loch.


It didn’t take long for Gillian to capture the first bird which was duly darvic ringed, measured & weighed before being released. 20 more birds followed making Friday’s total 20 new Coot & 1 recapture – that of a bird ringed by local ringers.


We noted several Black-headed gulls already sporting rings, several of these being foreign rings. So we attempted to catch any already ringed birds, resulting in the above Swedish ringed bird being controlled.

We left the Edinburgh area via a rather nice chippy were Gillian treated us both to the delights of a deep fried Pizza! Mmmmm! And then left for Stirling to check on whether any Coots would play ball with us at Airthey Loch at the University of Stirling. It turned out non of the Airthey birds wanted shiny darvic rings so we captured this rather smart male Goosander instead!



After a quick coffee and meeting the rest of the Dinsmore family, we headed up to the Cairngorms National Park to the lovely Carrbridge Hotel to participate in this years Scottish Ringers’ Conference.


The conference went down a real treat! Hosted by the Grampian Ringing Group a fantastic selection of talks were presented to the conference congregation. I rather enjoyed those talks given by Raymond Duncan on Waxwing ringing, by Jane Reid on the movements & ecology of Shags & talks by Ewan Weston and Clive Mckay were both very interesting. A fantastic evening quiz, along with several videos made by Euan Ferguson & Calum Campbell kept us all entertained on the groups catching methods! Most impressed we were by Calum & Euan’s gull catching methods (quite different to the method used by us) that Chris will be trying attempting the Scottish method in Wales over the coming week!

During a free period from 1-4pm on Saturday all three of us took the short trip down to Loch Garten to see Crested Tit. A visit made especially for Me & Gillian to add Cresties to our invisible lists! We watched several of the adorable little critters until we realised that around 20 tame Coal Tits we could come to feed from our hands! They stole the show I’m afraid……




We left the ringers conference earlier than most on Sunday as I was giving a talk to several students at Stirling University, about the Coot Ringing Programme.


Today we toured around several other sites around the Edinburgh area to look for Coot. Several more birds were captured along with 13 new Black-headed Gulls & a Tufted Duck at St Margaret's Loch.


Thanks to Gillian for a super weekend & for doing most of the driving. Thanks must also go to Gillian for sorting out most of the site permissions before hand, and to those ringers who allowed us to use their sites to catch & colour mark a sample of Coot. Lastly a big thank you to the Grampian Ringing Group for hosting a most enjoyable ringers’ conference…..

Tonight we’re back in Manchester and then heading south again to Slimbridge tomorrow morning. Rather looking forward to getting back to Slimbridge in the morning to see the newly arrived Bewick’s Swans, now over 100 for us to look at! Also knowing that when I’m in my office tomorrow I’ll only be several hundred meters away from 13 Spoon Billed Sandpipers!! Click here to read a blog post written by WWT’s Head of Species Conservation – Baz Hughes.