Friday, 26 February 2016

AA was worth the money after all!

On 8th August 2013 our Sandwich Tern colour-ringing project started at Ynyslas with the ceremonial marking of Red KAA, an adult caught on autumn passage from breeding grounds as yet unknown.

Well, who would have thought, yesterday I had email confirmation from South African tern ringer extraordinaire Mark Boorman that he had just recorded it alive and well hanging out at 4 Mile Salt Works, Swakopmund, Namibia with a whole host of other Sandwich Terns, many of which have been colour-ringed by ornithologists from all over Europe! So far 4 of the birds ringed at Ynyslas have been seen at this one location - about 1 in 10 of all the birds we have marked so far. 

Thanks for all your efforts Mark, very good to know what is going on in our birds "other lives". The following is a link to a short paper by Mark on the tern ringing at 4 Mile salt works and the dangers the terns face from predatory Jackals and Hyaenas the dog-walking debacle at Ynyslas into sharp context!!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Totally Turnstoned!

Last night, finally, the winds dropped and with it being a high tide and a newish moon conditions were perfect for Jane, Jacques and I to attempt a wader catch at a site just south of Aberystwyth. The recent high seas and strong winds have seen the sea breach the cobble sea-defences and flood the adjacent grass pastures. This is a regular winter event despite the unfortunate farmer's best attempts to prevent it. Whilst it may not be good news for the farmer it is great news for us because it means that all the waders get to use the pools as a nocturnal high-tide roost and we get a great opportunity to mist-net and ring a few.

Four wader nets were set over the pools with the greatest amount of droppings and we retreated back to the car to await nightfall. Just after dark we heard the sound of approaching Oystercatchers and Curlews and soon the nets were catching to great effect.  By the end of the evening we had caught 77 birds including our highest ever catch of 36 Turnstones (27 new birds and 9 retraps/controls). 

One of the 36 Turnstones caught which included retraps of 6 birds ringed 
locally in 2013, one from 2015 and 2 controls from elsewhere.

We also caught 24 Oystercatchers, 8 Redshank, 7 Curlew, 1 Black-headed Gull and this smart drake Teal.

The main targets for the night though were Curlews as I had just taken delivery of some colour-rings we could use at that site from Paddy Jenks of the Pembrokeshire Ringing Group. We had already caught a dozen or so Curlews there earlier this winter but had only fitted theses with BTO metal rings. 

Curlew A1, the first Curlew to be colour-ringed at this site. 
Keep your eyes peeled for this top notch bird!

The colour-rings are far more effective in generating recoveries and resightings thereby giving much more data/bird for conservation efforts on this seriously declining species. 

It was a very successful catch for this site given the fairly low number of waders using the local area and hopefully we will get chance to have another go at catching a few more Curlews there before they all disperse to their breeding grounds in March. Please keep your eyes peeled for Curlews with colour-rings and either report them directly to me or via the BTO website.