29 June 2012

Two days in a row

This week seems to have gone so quickly but now I have a bit of time to update the blog with some ringing activity at the start of the week.

Monday 25 Jun 12 - Gull chicks

On Monday evening Colin, Dave A and myself headed for one of the gull colonies to ring some gull chicks. This colony has Common Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls. Although there were Common Gulls on the colony we didn't find any chicks to ring. So I'm not sure whether it has been a poor year for them or whether we were just a bit too late and they have all fledged.

The Great Black-back Gulls were more successful and we found and ringed around 30 chicks which was significantly better than last year.

As we were leaving the colony Dave A spotted a solitary chick on the far boundary of the field next to the one we were crossing. Dave set off to get it while Colin and I both kept an eye on where the chick was going as it set off along the boundary fence. As Dave got closer it moved into the field and disappeared into the undergrowth. We tried to guide Dave to where we had last seen it when I suddenly spotted it coming out from underneath the gate in the boundary fence next to us.

Now it was Colin's turn to move in and he soon had the chick caught. Of course I wasn't allowed to ring it until I could identify it. It certainly wasn't a Common Gull chick as the bill was totally wrong. It didn't look like all the Great Black-backed gulls that we had just been ringing either. Now I was showing my weakness in gull chick ID. I hadn't spotted that Colin kept on looking up into the sky as a hint and eventually he said 'What's above us?' I looked up and there were some Herring Gulls circling overhead. So tenatively I asked if it was a Herring Gull chick. Before Colin had a chance to answer Dave arrived back with us and said 'Herring Gull, thought it was.' So that ended my deliberations with the answer revealed.

I definitely need to do some more homework on gull chick ID and also remember that there might sometimes be a clue in the sky!!

Tuesday 26 Jun 12 - Seabirds and others

The good weather continues and tonight Colin, Dave A and myself went down onto South Ronaldsay to ring Razorbill and Shag chicks. The Shags were also going to be colour ringed as part of a project to see where they go once they have fledged.

The original plan was to colour ring the Shags over on Swona when we went over on the annual sea bird ringing trip but with the recent poor weather and more forecast it wasn't looking good for getting over there so it was decided we would colour ring some of the Shag chicks on South Ronaldsay instead.

On the way to where we were going to park the car we spotted some Oystercatcher chicks in one of the fields. Dave managed to catch a couple of them to start the evening's ringing totals.

After a short walk from where we parked the car we arrived on site. The first birds to be ringed were Razorbills, an adult and a chick. Then we started on the Shags, ringing about 15 of them. We also found a Herring Gull chick in the area sat on its nest so that was ringed as well.

We then moved onto another site, where some more Shag chicks were ringed.

On the way back to the car we were crossing a bit of moorland when a Bonxie (Great Skua) started taking a bit of interest in us. We spread out and started looking around the area in case there were any Bonxie chicks about. The Bonxie disappeared only to re-appear a few minutes later with a mate for backup, however after several overhead passes they disappeared again.

As we were searching the area Dave spotted the remains of a bird lying on the ground. As he moved in for a closer look he noticed an adult Meadow Pipit exit from the other side of a small clump of heather. Moving round the clump he found a small opening and inside there were three chicks. So thanks to his keen observation I got to ring a new species of chick.

We also added another Oystercatcher chick to the total for the evening.

All in all a successful evening. It will be interesting to see if and when any of our colour ringed Shags get reported.

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