Sunday, 30 September 2012

Scary Dipper!

Destined to spend the rest of its life making other Dippers jump!!

Last night, with Dave Smith and Jane,  I spent the first of several that I'll be spending over the next couple of weeks checking all the many Dipper roost site we know of in South Shropshire and neighbouring areas of Powys and Herefordshire. This is part of a long-running study and records the numbers present and the survival rates and movement of birds. Last year we started colour-ringing for the first time and registered the study as a RAS. The colour-rings proved very useful during the breeding season and over 65 adults were individually identified at nest sites. They also proved extremely useful last night in identifying birds at the roosts. During the night (a very bright one at that) we caught or identified 29 out of the 36 found.

With the new colour-rings it is no longer necessary to catch all the birds in order to identify them.

It's early days yet but first indications this year are that there are a good number of adults surviving from last winter but an unusually low number of juvenile birds. The poor survival may well be due to the floods this summer, just after many broods had fledged.

Will post a more detailed assessment when we've finished checking them all.

The previous night Andre Marsh, Sarah Cookson, my eldest Amy and I had spent half the night checking new sites in and around the Pontrhydfendigaid and Tregaron area, expanding the study westwards. There are not nearly so many Dippers on these more acidic waters but we still managed to catch 8 out of the 9 found thereby managing to give Sarah a good look at her first ever Dipper (I think she's hooked!)

Amy insisted that after Dippering we spend the night, Bear Grylls style, in a make-shift shelter in the woods - it was a long night,  especially as we had failed to catch our supper!! 

As we were in the area, the following morning (despite the lack of sleep) we did some essential nest-box maintenance and discovered an out-of-season lodger in one of the boxes.

Can you tell what it is yet?

This is the first Noctule (if that's what it is!!) I've ever found in a bird-box.

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