Friday 1 September 2023

Fortunate Photos Facilitate Following Falcons' Fortunes

Working so closely with the Welsh Kite Trust it is inevitable that MWRG focuses heavily on the study of birds of prey  - particularly falcons as they seem to be fairing less favourably than their fork-tailed cousins. The group have installed and monitor well over 50 Kestrel nest boxes with some success and an indication that the safer nest sites are resulting in increased nest success and greater productivity. Every year we colour-ring a sample of local Peregrine, Kestrel and Hobby nests and have been working on Merlins too although the state of this species in Mid-Wales is so dire now that we rarely get chance to colour-ring any. The last nest we ringed, in 2022, was sadly predated by a fox a week after we ringed them and we were unjustly held accountable by some. The colour-ringing has greatly increased the information gathered on the survival and dispersal of the young but reporting rates are still low. Recently we received a trio of photographs that helped in the data gathering.

Firstly a Peregrine photographed by stunned bird-watchers on a pelagic trip off Newquay, Ceredigion as it caught and carried off the first Wilson's Petrel ever recorded in the County was clearly seen to be wearing an Orange ring VSH. This bird had been ringed as a chick (male) at an inland nest site in South Shropshire the previous year. We have recently had Peregrines from our area recovered or sighted in Carnarfonshire, Cheshire, Buckinghamshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire and Lothian. 

NB. For Ceredigion birders missing out on a lifer and seeking revenge please note that the bird's DNA profile is held in the Nation Wildlife Crime Database as it was sampled, along with all the other Peregrine chicks we ring to aid any subsequent investigations into illegally acquired or killed birds.

Secondly a Hobby ringed as a chick in a nest near Newtown was caught on a camera-trap at RSPB's lake Vyrnwy Reserve on 26th July 2023 (thanks to Sam Sharpe for reporting).

Finally, a young Kestrel, ringed in a nestbox just south of Aberystwyth in June this year was photographed by local bird and wildlife enthusiast Shane Jones on 28th August. It had only travelled a few miles down the coast but still great to record that it was alive and doing well. We have previously had colour-ringed Kestrels reported from North Scotland, France and Spain so they don't all stay at home. Many thanks to Shane for allowing us to use his excellent photo.

Monday 20 February 2023

Costly menu!

Yesterday Adrienne Stratford, Jack Slattery and I replaced or installed a couple of new Chough nest-boxes in North Ceredigion. The first site, between Borth and Aberystwyth, which was used successfully in 2022 (rearing a brood of 4 chicks) was considerably the worse for wear with the top completely collapsed in. Not surprising though as I originally installed this with Mick Green back in the early 1990s! If it lasts anywhere near as long as the first one it certainly won't be me replacing it next time!

Unfortunately the local Peregrines have expensive tastes. No starlings or pigeons for them - Chough, Woodcock and Golden Plover seemed to be on the menu sadly - almost considered it personal!  Annoyingly, whilst leaving enough evidence of the wildlife crime they had perpetrated the Peregrines removed any evidence of whom the victims might have been (no legs/no rings). Hopefully the unfortunate Chough concerned was a yearling and not one of the breeding pair 🤞

Chough nestbox installed at a new site near Aberystwyth where a pair had attempted to breed, unsuccessfully, in 2022. Hopefully the addition of a much more secure and sheltered nest location will ensure success in 2023 and beyond.