There are some nights when woodcock ringing is just hard work. Last night aided by Bethyn Thomas and his Dad we saw 38 woodcock, but I could only catch 3. This was because it was very calm and the ground was frosty making a stealthy approach impossible. However there was a reward for our effort and kms walked, one of the three birds caught was a retrap of a woodcock I caught as a juvenile on the very same field eight years ago. This is my oldest retrap to date after catching 2400 woodcock over 12 years. This bird has made 17 migrations across of the North Sea. With an average migration of around 2000 km this individual has probably flown around 35,000 km in its life. I retrapped this bird in the autumn of 2012 and again in Jan 2014, but have not encountered it since. At time like this I dream how amazing it would be if woodcock could talk.
Sunday, 1 November 2020
I have recently received reports (and photographs) of two of our colour-ringed Little Egrets. Both birds were ringed on the same day (25th June 2012) over 8 years ago. The first (White T, Yellow A) photographed on Anglesey by Toby Carter has been reported about 10 times over the years all from Malltraeth Marsh at a maximum distance from the ringing site near Bangor of 19.5 kms.
Photo © Toby Carter
The second bird (White T, Yellow V) photographed at Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire by Mark Carter has only been reported twice previously but amazingly both time were at Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, Canary Islands. The first report was on 8th January 2014 and then again on 15th March 2020. At 2,824 kms, this is one of the longest movements ever recorded for a BTO-ringed Little Egret and mirrors an earlier movement of one of our Bangor-ringed birds to Tenerife. It would be amazing to know if this second bird has been making annual migrations down to the same wintering location on the Canaries (a round trip of over 5,000kms) or whether it suddenly decided to return after 8 years living the ex pat life (which seems highly unlikely!).
Wednesday, 2 September 2020
Last night was the first of the next set of high tides for ringing at Ynyslas. As the winds were light and conditions were right I decided to forgo wader dazzling in favour of mist-netting terns. On the last set of tides the estuary was brim-full of Sandwich Terns, Kittiwakes and a raft of other species but the winds were far too high to attempt any netting and unfortunately terns aren't really catchable by dazzling. Sod's law, conditions were now perfect but it was ominously quite on the tern front with nearly all having moved on! Still an opportunity to net terns is never missed even if there isn't much about. With assistance from Stephen Edwards and Gareth and Roy Richardson we set the usual 4 x 60ft wader nets on the point and waited. High tide was a bit early, such that there was no catching on the rising tide as it was too light and the nets were too visible. It did allow us to watch a juvenile Peregrine persistently terrorising the Dunlin (and seemingly inflicting needless damage as we caught four Dunlin with large rips in the skin of their breasts or sides).
Needless to say I was relieved when we eventually caught our first few terns (Sandwich and Common) along with a few Dunlin, Knot and a Turnstone. The Knot and Turnstone were particularly welcome as it enabled us to kick-start two new colour-marking projects using leg-flags on both species.
We catch a reasonable number of both species annually but in the past have had very few returns from just BTO metal rings. Hopefully the leg-flags will enable birdwatchers to help us collect additional information and greatly increase the data on movements etc.
Just as we were finishing processing the last few birds Stephen returns from a net round with the exciting news of a foreign-ringed Common Tern. "Wow, that's nice" I say. The reply was "yes, and its a South African ring!"
My reply is, not surprising to some, unrepeatable!!
Saturday, 9 May 2020
Curlew Country Curlew Cam 2020