31 August 2011

Sedgies and Midgies

This broken leg has meant that I have missed out on some recent ringing sessions down at the local Swallow roost.

However, as I can now start putting a little weight on my leg it's time to start getting my hand back in. So this evening, as there was little wind and it was dry I joined some of the other members of the ringing group down at the roost. I might not be able to go out to the nets and extract the birds but I can certainly sit by the car and process the catch, despite the midges. Must remember to take the repellent next time!!

It wasn't a particularly busy session, i.e. no Swallows caught despite there being several hundred in the skies above us, but we did add around another 10 Sedge Wablers to this years total which has now passed through the 100 mark at this one site.

Sedge Warbler

We also processed a couple of Wrens, one of which was an adult in moult so I got the chance to look at how to do moult scoring.

If the weather stays reasonable we might have another go tomorrow night.

Ringing activities curtailed

For those that have been following my blog from the start you may have wondered about my lack of posts recently. This was due to the fact that while out hill walking recently I slipped and broke my leg. Not to be content with breaking my leg I then went and got an infection in it which put me in hosptial for a week.

So that has put my ringing training on hold for a bit, but not one to miss a birding opportunity I was challenged by a local birder to see how many species I could see from my hosptial bed. On discharge, I closed the list with a total of 16, three short of beating the total set. The list consisted of:
Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Mallard, Oystercatcher, Rook, Starling, Swallow, Wood Pigeon and Wren.

Finally, last Wednesday (24th) after having had a back slab (half cast) since breaking the leg due to the swelling I got the full cast fitted. An X-ray showed everything was nicely lined up and I wasn't going to need any surgery to sort things out. So now I have to wear the full cast for three weeks then I will get another X-ray to see how things are doing and hopefully an idea of how long I will need to wear the full cast for.

So for now it is hobbling around on crutches and birdwatching from the cottage.

6 August 2011

Fulmar Time

Finally we have a nice sunny day, blue sky and little wind and just in time too for today is the annual Fulmar ringing trip to the uninhabited island of Swona.

The yacht Emerald which had been moored up in the bay in front of the cottage here since Thursday due to the bad weather finally managed to move on just after 07:00.

The ringing party arrived at Burwick Harbour, South Ronaldsay and set off for Swona at 10:00am. We landed around 10:30 and set off to the South end of the island, split into two groups and set about ringing the Fulmar chicks.

The challenge of the day is to avoid these cute little bundles of fluff from gobbing a stinking oily fish mixture all over you as you put the rings on.

The trip went well and around 260 chicks were ringed, slightly up on last year so the earlier rumours that the breeding season may not have been quite so successful this year might seemed unfounded.

Fulmar chick on nest

5 August 2011


After a few days of fog, rain and wind the weather is finally improving. The sun is now shining, the visibility improved and the wind is starting to decrease.

Hopefully this trend will continue for the next 24 hours as tomorrow morning I'm off on the annual Fulmar chick ringing trip.

Last year over 200 chicks were ringed but initial reports suggest this year's number could be less.

I'm not the best of sailors so I'm hoping for a calm crossing. I'll let you know tomorrow.


There was a good group of Greenfinches in the garden this morning, a total of 13 consisting of 3 males, 2 females and 8 juveniles.

4 August 2011

Pied Wagtails

For the last 2 years around the end of July/start of August I start getting adult Pied Wagtails appearing in the garden. Then after about a week or two the juveniles start appearing. True to form an adult appeared in the garden about a fortnight ago running around the lawn collecting food and disappearing with it, although I wasn't able to find out where it was going.

Then this afternoon, the first juvenile has appeared on the lawn finding its own food. I wonder how many brothers and sisters will turn up in the next few days. Last year I had a maximum count of three juveniles.

Swallow Roost

Went to my local Swallow roost last night with Colin, my trainer, and a few other members of the Orkney Ringing Group (ORG). This was our 5th visit this season.

Caught a few more Sedge Wabler and around 50 Swallows. There were a few more adult Swallows this time.

The more sessions we do at this site the more intrigued I am as to how many Sedge Warblers there are here. We must have ringed nearly 70 so far over the last 5 visits yet the number of retraps is very small.

3 August 2011


Welcome to my blog.

The first thing I'll say is that this blog has nothing to do with bells (church bells, hand bells or whiskey).

This is a blog where I hope to record my bird ringing and other birding activities here in Orkney and further afield. I may also occassionally post something non bird related.

If you don't know what bird ringing is all about then you can find out more here: http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/ringing/ringing-scheme

I'm currently a trainee bird ringer and have had my trainee permit for about 20 months now. In that time I have ringed just over 1000 birds of 49 species.

Hopefully you will be able to follow my progress as I work towards my C permit and learn more about ringing and birds along the way.