12 May 2013

A trip to the NRBO

I have just got back from my first visit to the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory (NRBO) having spent five days over there.

This post will cover just my ringing activities, I have put a post covering my other birding activities on North Ronaldsay on my other blog - Burray Birding

There are two main ringing sites on North Ronaldsay, the first is just up the road from the Observatory (Obs) at Holland House where a number of mist nets are setup in the garden and the other is at the Obs itself. Generally there are two ringing sessions a day at Holland House, one early in the morning and the other in the evening. The traps around the Obs can be used at anytime depending upon what is about.

All of my ringing activities apart from two birds were done at Holland House. The other two birds were caught at the Obs.

I have only listed the birds that I have processed, with any retraps/controls being in ( ). I have also given each species their status, on first mention, from a North Ronaldsay perspective to give them a bit of context.

Sunday 5 May

Having arrived mid-morning my first ringing session was in the evening with Simon from the Obs and Neil, a visiting ringer from Lanarkshire.

This session resulted in Goldfinch [Scarce migrant] 1, Linnet [Common migrant/common breeder] 3 (4) and Meadow Pipit [Common migrant/common breeder] 1.

Monday 6 May

Early start this morning, up at 5:30am and at Holland House by 6am with Mark from the Obs and Neil.

This session produced Chiffchaff [Common migrant/occassional summer resident] 1, Goldcrest [Common migrant] (1), Meadow Pipit 1, Starling [Common resident/breeder] 2 (1) and Wren [Common resident/common breeder] (1).

The evening session with Mark and Neil produced Chiffchaff 1, Linnet 1 (2) and Tree Pipit [Common migrant] 1. A second Tree Pipit was ringed by Neil.

Tree Pipit

Tuesday 7 May

This morning's session was with Alison and Kevin from the Obs and Neil. This session produced Blackbird [Common migrant/common resident/breeder] 3, Chiffchaff (1), Goldcrest (2), Redwing [Common migrant] 1, Siskin [Common migrant] 3 (1), Tree Pipit (1) and a Willow Warbler [Common migrant].

The evening session with Kevin and Neil produced Blackbird 1 and Linnet 2 (1).

Wednesday 8 May

The morning session with Simon and Neil was very quiet with just a single Goldfinch. This spring is proving to be a good year for these birds with a flock of 8 being seen this week. To put this into context so far this this year the same number of birds have been ringed as in the entire Obs history.

The evening session with Simon and Neil was a bit more productive and started with a Pied Flycatcher [Common migrant] 1 before tea and after tea Chiffchaff 1 (1), Linnet 1 (2) and a White Wagtail.

Thursday 9 May

The morning session with Mark and Neil was the last session of my stay and produced a retrapped Blackbird, Chiffchaff 2 and Willow Warbler 1.

Willow Warbler
On the way back to the Obs for breakfast I was met by Gavin from the Obs to be informed that he had a bird for me to ring. A few cryptic clues made things sound very interesting. On entering the ringing shed I found Alison and a birder who had just flown in that morning waiting for me. I took the bird from the bag and immediately knew it was a bird I hadn't seen before. It was like a Sedge Warbler but without the characterisitc eye stripe with an olive-brown back that had dark streaks, a pale yellowish breast and an off-white belly with hardly any markings. This was a bird that I have heard in Orkney but never seen, this was a Grasshopper Warbler [Regular migrant].

Grasshopper Warbler
Ringing Summary

A summary of the birds that I processed during my trip:

                               Ringed     Retrapped
      1  Blackbird                4           1
      2  Chiffchaff               5           2
      3  Goldcrest                            3
      4  Goldfinch                2
      5  Grasshopper Warbler      1
      6  Linnet                   7           9
      7  Meadow Pipit             2
      8  Pied Flycatcher          1
      9  Redwing                  1
     10  Reed Bunting             1
     11  Siskin                   3           1
     12  Starling                 2           1
     13  Tree Pipit               1           1
     14  White Wagtail            1
     15  Willow Warbler           2
     16  Wren                                 1
     Totals                      33          19

I'd just like to say a big thank you to Alison, Kevin, Mark and Simon for their time, knowledge and patience and for giving me the opportunity to ring some new species. Hopefully I'll be back out there later in the year.

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