Sunday 17 June 2012

The Highlight of My Day!

Checking on one of my Barn owl boxes in Greater Manchester, that I’ve had up for three years now & finding out that a pair have taken to it and raised a brood!


We seem to be having a good Barn owl year with three broods already ringed & two more to ring in a few weeks time.


Saturday 16 June 2012

Island Hopping.

On Thursday we flew out from Manchester & hopped across the water to the Isle of Man to see Mr Gray & Mr Scott for our annual 'ringing jollies'!

Meeting the pair at the airport they whisked us off to the local gravel pits, calling off at Sean's home to collect the kayaks first, before launching them to gain access to an island. This held several pairs of breeding Greater blacked backed & Herring gulls along with a nice small Cormorant colony.


After a small battle with the wind all four of us safely made it onto the island and we got to work ringing several GBB & Herring gull chicks. The Cormorant nests were at various stages ranging from eggs to medium sized chicks - so a handful of chicks were marked with darvic rings.



After completing our little expedition we then went into a nearby breeding colony that held Herring & Lesser blacked backed gulls. Here we colour marked several chicks of both species.


We then took a walk along the beaches to see if we could muster up any wader pulli for ringing resulting in an Oystercatcher chick being caught & after a small run around a Curlew chick being found in the nearby sand dunes.


At a nearby Little tern colony two newly hatched chicks were ringed, along with the capture of a controlled adult bird.



By this time it was time to call it a day so we headed off back to Sean's to clean up & to fill our faces! However knowing from my previous visits to Sean's, I knew we hadn't quite finished ringing for the day! There were gulls to be whooshed netted in the garden!


Friday we met back up with Kev in Peel Harbour where we spent the majority of the day spring trapping Herring gulls & catching Black guillemots. The Herring gulls obviously had only one thing on their minds, in finding food for their chicks - which allowed us to capture 18 birds for colour ringing! Three Black guillemots were caught - 2 new & 1 recapture from 2005!


As always I've enjoyed my trip over to the IOM, it's a stunning place and has some cracking bird life! Sat in Sean & Niki's kitchen watching Gannets diving into the sea at the bottom of their garden, with a cheeky G&T to hand was truly memorable!


A massive thanks to Sean, Kev & Niki for having us along! Some quality bird ringing carried out with three quality friends! Thank-you muchly! until next time chin-chin!

A video made by Sean -

Monday 11 June 2012

Mini Eggs….

We decided to take advantage of Sundays fine weather to check up on a few nests that had pulli ready for ringing, but first on the list was to check the status of a Goldcrest nest that we found during nest box monitoring in Atherton woods.


Two weeks ago we observed one of the adult birds collecting nesting material & after a small search we eventually found the nest safely tucked away on the end of a branch of a Yew tree. On our 2nd visit to the nest it contained four tiny eggs & as none of us have ever found a Goldcrest nest before, we are rather looking forward to watching this nest progress!


Very hard to photograph!

A quick visit to our reed bed site in Worsley found us three new nests with pulli that were able to be ringed. First up a Willow warbler nest (6 chicks), Greenfinch (4 chicks) and Reed bunting (2 chicks) all being ringed. 

Finally we finished our day by ringing a brood of Barn owls that have taken up residence in a box at a new location within Greater Manchester. Brilliant!


Then we went to watch Coldplay at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium – which was AWESOME!

Saturday 9 June 2012

Swiftly Does It!

Gillian & I visited my local cemetery this afternoon to check on a few nests, but as a mini downpour had just passed over not long ago – several Swifts were coming down low to feed. A quick dash home to fetch some poles & a mist net, soon saw several Swifts in our grasp.


I’ve handled several Swift in the past, so Gillian ringed & processed today’s catch – leaving my hands unscathed & my hair flat fly free!


Smart birds!

Thanks to one of the cemetery keepers for his help today…….

Friday 8 June 2012

The Brides, Bridge & Dinsmore Partnership!

Everything is happening at once at the moment, which is keeping us very busy! The Reed warbler season has kicked off to a good start - we're currently monitoring nests at three sites, totalling 62 nests found. Our main reed bed site in Cheshire is holding 41 nests (that we know of!) and we've already ringed our first broods & recorded our first fledged young!


We've also been very busy over at WWT Martin Mere monitoring the Tree sparrow boxes. Out of 109 boxes checked 71 contained nests of Tree sparrow. Most chicks being ringed from these boxes & nest record cards filled out for all attempts. Most of the first broods have now left and second clutches are now well under way!


I'm expecting both our 2012 Reed warbler & Tree sparrow nest record totals to be well over 100 cards for both species!

I usually fly solo when nest recording, however this year I've teamed up with Gillian & Chris and out of this has come the Brides, Bridge & Dinsmore (BBD) nest recording partnership.

Although we're spread across the country myself at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, Gillian in Stirling & Chris in Bangor, N Wales - we are not only nest recording at sites near our homes, but we meet up 'in the middle' (or near enough!) in Manchester every weekend. This is so that we can continue to run several monitoring projects such as the Reed warbler & Tree sparrow recording, that I've been running for several years now.

At the moment a lot of our time is being spent out in the field, however during a recent group meeting we sat down & worked out that we've something around 700-750 nest record cards on the go at the moment, between us. 300+ of these now complete, sitting in IPMR and awaiting submission to BTO HQ.

I think ringing & nest recording should go together in the same way that Ant & Dec does, Gin with Tonic & Morecambe and Wise - In that one can work without the other, but it just wouldn’t be right to just have the one! So much information can be gleaned from ringing & nest recording if both are put together.

Anyhow back to the ringing side of things. Today whilst working from WWT Martin Mere, during lunch I joined my colleagues from the Reserve Team & we headed out onto the reserve to check on the Barn owls. I'm happy to report that the owls this year seem to be having a better year than previous years, as we found one brood of three healthy chicks, along with a female sitting on 6 eggs.


Two nice Kestrel broods were also added to the days findings, both containing newly hatched chicks & one of the adult females we managed to trap on the nest, which was duly ringed before she bid a feisty retreat back into her box! Blood pouring from my hand......! (from me not the bird!)


So I hope the above goes to show for the lack of blog post recently! We're spending a lot of time out in the field, still ringing lots of birds - but struggling to keep up with the admin work! We need an admin team!

I've got some exciting ringing events & trips coming up over the coming weeks - so check back soon!!