Monday, 20 May 2013

Lagopus lagopus cambricus

After a long day on the coast looking for some Choughs to ring (none ready yet as nearly all nests are three weeks later than usual due to the cold spring) Jane and I had a quick trip up the hills looking for Red Grouse. Numbers seem a bit lower than of late at this site but we did manage to catch one male. Might go back, go back, go back and see if we can ring some more!

The not so famous, but much scarcer, Welsh Grouse Lagopus lagopus cambricus

Saturday, 18 May 2013

It's in the bag!

Spot the Grey Wagtail nest!

Doh, think I gave it away!!

Lloyd was told of this unusual Grey Wagtail nest by the owner of one his Dipper sites. Six Grey Wagtail chicks were ringed here along with 10 others the same day in more usual nest-sites

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Netting turns to nesting in the Hawfinch wood

All too soon the 2013 Hawfinch netting season at our RAS feeding site in North Wales has drawn to a close. In what was probably our final attempt this spring, Dave, Jane, Adrienne Stratford and I caught just three Hawfinch, all of which were retraps (although one was from 2011). The total of new birds for the year finished at 61. The Hawfinch studies are far from over for the year though.  This morning we installed three motion sensitive cameras on three nests that Dave had found earlier in the week. The cameras have been supplied by RSPB scientists and are being used to study predation rates and to identify the main culprits of said predation. Hopefully they will fail in this latter objective on these three nests and we will get to colour-ring our first ever Hawfinch pulli! Dave is on annual leave at present, desperately searching for more nests before the leaves emerge fully and make them impossible to see. All nests are being checked closely for colour-ringed adults too.

Hawfinch nests are often high in the tops of tall trees making nests hard to locate and difficult to monitor. Installing motion sensitive cameras makes things a whole lot easier.

Nests can then be safely checked from the ground, whilst having a brew!

I've never actually seen Hawfinch nests and eggs close-up before. They are an absolutely marvellous construction. like a miniature  deep-cupped woodpigeon nest lined with lichen. Here are close-ups of the three I climbed to today. Clutch sizes were 1 x 3, 1 x 4 and 1 x 5

Sunday, 5 May 2013

From Aber to ABBA?

Have just received an email from Peter Olsson, the ringer who is researching the rare race of Baltic Dunlin, one of which we caught near Llanrhystud on 16th April 2013. Apparently he was observed singing at Tygelsjö ängar back on his Swedish breeding grounds yesterday, just 5km from where he was ringed as a chick! 

The capture in Wales was very unexpected and Peter speculates that it may have been following Scottish or Icelandic birds on its first spring migration. It is amazing to have been able to contribute to their research.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Busy Day, Mixed Bag

Wednesday started very early as Jane and I tried for Whimbrels at high tide. It is still early in the season but we did managed 4 new Whimbrel along with a Curlew and a re-trap Oystercatcher. Then, after a couple of hours sleep, we headed up north to meet Dave for more Ring Ouzel and Hawfinch ringing. After just a short wait we were successful in trapping and colour-ringing another cracking male on his breeding site (PS. just heard that Ring Ouzel AA, that we ringed there last week, was hit and killed by a car on Thursday! Sickening, what a tragic waste!)

At 07.45 we arrived at our garden Hawfinch site where we caught 2 new Hawfinch. There was a nice bit of by-catch too in the way of a first-year Jay and an adult  male Sparrowhawk.

The rest of the day was spent at our main RAS feeding site where we caught another 14 Hawfinch including 7 more new birds. The total of new Hawfinch ringed this year is now just 1 short of what we managed in 2012 but still less than half that achieved in 2011. Where are they all coming from?

Added interest here came in the form of two stunning male Wood Warblers, these really are a personal favourite.