On Tuesday I met Damian Clarke, a fellow raptor ringer from Ireland, off the ferry in Pembroke Dock and we headed off to Brechfa Forest in search of more Nightjars. Nightjars are pretty scarce in Ireland and a couple of years ago Damian conducted a big survey for them in Co. Wicklow whilst on secondment to the Golden Eagle Trust. Unfortunately, despite there being loads of suitable habitat and given that you can see Wicklow from Wales on a good day, he failed to locate any. Things were considerably better in Brechfa though. Having met up with Paddy and Dai Rees and Gordon Baird from NRW we checked five of the seven nests we had pinned down. All were still going, despite the recent heavy rains, and three of them had hatched with one nest containing a single, ringable, chick and the other two both having two chicks that were not quite old enough yet.
Three nightjars all looking pretty stick like! This is a female covering two chicks just under a week old.
Nightjars on nests never fail to amaze, this one has a single ringable chick under her.
On Wednesday, after a few hours sleep, we headed off down to Monmouth to meet Steve Roberts. Steve's looking for me to act as a referee for his permit upgrade so we went down to help him ring a couple of broods of Hobby before heading off to try for yet more Nightjars in South Wales.
One of Steve's brood of Hobbies in Monmouthshire
Damian extracting a juvenile Nightjar from a mist-net set over the forest track.
Nothing better than a couple of jars on a warm summer evening.Thursday morning was a bit special as, whilst we were in South Wales anyway, we got to help Steve ring a brood of Honey Buzzards.
Honey Buzzard nests can be amazingly difficult to locate but this one was unusually open and on the edge of a track.
Two is the usual brood size. Both these chicks were a good weight and crops rammed with wasp grubs, a reflection of the better weather we are having this summer.
Steve colour-rings all his "Honeys" so that he can identify them at nests when they breed using video cameras. This one is JR - lets's hope we never have to ask the question!
We then headed off to ring a couple more broods of Hobby, one in Radnorshire the other near Clun in Shropshire.
Friday morning, first thing, we tried for Green Sandpipers at Glasbury and caught two - the same bird Sarah and I caught there last week plus a new one. We also caught 5 Common Sandpipers (three retraps and two new). The rest of Friday was spent in an abortive attempt to locate more Hobby nests. In total we visited five site where they have bred in the last two years and didn't see a single Hobby all day!
Friday night/Saturday morning was spent doing more Nightjars with Jane - a single female was re-trapped and two broods of chicks ringed (the two that were just too small on Tuesday night). A busy week to say the least but great fun and good company as usual, cheers mate.
Would you just step on to the scales a minute please?