Sunday 29 June 2014

3Jays at Cors Dyfi

Thursday night/Friday morning saw what was hopefully the first of several mist-netting visits to the Dyfi Osprey Project at Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust's Cors Dyfi reserve. Netting is being conducted at the request of Emyr Evans to discover what else, other than Ospreys, are using the reserve to breed and in what numbers. Hopefully this may develop into a CES in future years adding to the BTOs network of CES's and helping to boost the low number of such sites in Wales.

Lots of the young warblers were still recently fledged so not moving about much but even so we did manage to catch almost 80 birds including 12 Willow Warblers, 10 Blackcaps, 10 Reed Warblers and 10 Sedge Warblers (including one wearing a French ring). 

Also caught were 3 Jays (not a bird we catch all that often) one of which got its own back on me during the photo-shoot!

'Gurning' whilst holding birds for photos is increasingly frowned upon 
but I guess in this instance it might be justified!

Unfortunately, despite showing early promise, none of the four Cuckoos present wanted to co-operate and I guess that by the time we return in a week or so they will have left on their long journey to Central Africa.

More can be found on the DOP's Facebook page

Thanks to Emyr Evans for the Jay photos and Maria Wagland for the one of the Sedge Warbler

Saturday 28 June 2014

Bit of a catchup

May, June and July are probably the busiest months for most bird-ringers as we struggle to get around all of our nest boxes, find nests, do dawn catches and, if you work on Nightjars, stay up all night catching and tracking them too!! It all doesn't leave a lot of time for anything else, including blogging!

Here then is a quick run-down of what's been happening lately.

Apart from ringing over 300 Dipper pulli and checking over 250 Pied Flycatcher/Tit nest boxes (including this one with a brood of nine Marsh Tits) 

and ringing the odd Hawfinch brood, May was mostly filled with colour-ringing over 250 Chough chicks in partnership with Adrienne Stratford

and also catching a few of the un~ringed adults

as well as confirming the identity of all the ringed breeders!

In recent years June has been devoted largely to ringing and wing-tagging Red Kites. This year we concentrated on the Red Kites in Shropshire and Herefordshire and largely ignored all those nesting in Wales as happily it is now far too big a job with so many pairs nesting.

Some of the kite nests in Shropshire are in big trees mind!!

but, hey, always up for a challenge!

Three of the 30 odd kite chicks ringed this year.

The time freed from ringing and tagging all those kites has been spent tracking down and ringing more Kestrel chicks, 46 so far 

and Merlins

Nighttimes have been spent in pursuit of Nightjars 

but dusk and dawn also provided the odd opportunity to catch Cuckoos including this female.

All the coastal Chough activity has allowed for a Fulmar or two

Fulmars, although they look gentle enough sat on a cliff ledge are best dealt with with assistance (in this case Zac Hinchcliffe see Apart from throwing-up over you like a scene from the Exorcist they are also armed with a formidable hooked beak that they aren't shy of using!

and even the occasional Shag!

Thanks to Gareth Jones for the use of the Shag and Fulmar ringing photos.

Now that the pressure is off normal blogging will resume shortly! 

Friday 13 June 2014

Full o' voles

Over the past couple of weeks, as well as finishing off all the Chough colour-ringing and starting this year's Nightjar work we have been trying to get around a good few Kestrel and Barn Owl sites too. Paul indicated in his last post that the season was looking both early and productive and this has been borne out by the findings at other sites visited since. Clearly it is a very good vole year, hardly surprising given the very mild winter we experienced, and of 5 Kestrel nests ringed so far three were broods of 5 and 2 were broods of 6.

Checking a Kestrel nestbox
(well actually it was a Chough nest box that had been used by Kestrels!)

Six Kestrels is a pretty good consolation for not having any Choughs in the box!

All those mouths to feed means the adults were pretty busy hunting

Five Kestrels at a Shropshire nest site.
 Thanks to Michelle Frater for the photo and for finding the nest in the first place.

Barn Owls similarly have big broods of heavy chicks with many nests containing a stash of surplus food. Broods of Barn Owls encountered so far are 1 of 6, 2 of 5, 4 of 4 and 1 of 3.

Two of a health brood of five ringed earlier today

An adult caught earlier in the week. The brood patch on this bird confirmed it as a female although the plumage is fairly pale with very little spotting underneath

It is great to see Barn Owls bouncing back from the lows of last year  following  the  harsh winter of 2011/12. Hopefully this year's bumper early crop will further the re-occupation of many of the currently deserted inland sites.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Sunday morning preying...

On Sunday morning Tony and myself headed up to Montgomeryshire to ring some early broods of raptors. It didn't start too well, when the first Peregrine site we checked had failed. Thankfully things got a lot better. Our next stop was at a 'new' Goshawk site, where these two well grown chicks were sat waiting to be ringed. By the amount of crap on the floor we thought it was going to be a very big brood, but we were happy with the two (both males).

They were shortly followed by a very early brood of 'upland' Kestrels, five in total. Presumably the mild winter has had an effect with breeding times, as we wouldn't normally expect the upland Kestrels to be ready for another 3-4 weeks.

Another Peregrine site was checked on the way back, but unfortunately they had also failed! There was torrential rain a few weeks back which would have coincided with the time they were hatching, so possibly the reason for both pairs failing. Hopefully not all of the Mid Wales Peregrines will have all suffered the same fate!

In the afternoon, we both headed in different directions. Tony headed off to Ceredigion to check on one of his nest box schemes, while I headed off to some moorland in Radnorshire to check on some nests found earlier in the year. Between us we managed to ring 137 chicks: 47 Pied Flycatcher, 25 Redstart, 28 Blue Tit, 21 Great Tit, 5 Stonechat, 4 Wheatear and 7 Willow Warbler.

All in all, a bloody good day!