30 July 2013

Stormies at last

After two unsuccessful attempts last week at catching Storm Petrels, last night after the reed bed session Stan and myself headed to the ringing site on South Ronaldsay to meet up with Andy for another attempt.

We here hoping that this was going to be third time lucky.

With the net set just before midnight we sat back and waited. An hour later and still no joy, was this going to be another night of catching nothing?

Despite the fog that was drifiting in and out there was still a hint of light to the night sky. Then it seemed to get darker. Perhaps it was the imminent rain clouds moving in. In the darkness Andy spotted something in the net.

At last it was our first Storm Petrel of the year. As Andy extracted it from the net we discovered that it had already been ringed. Had it been ringed locally? Was it ringed recently? I'll be able to answer that once Andy has checked out the ring number.

We started feeling a bit more optimistic, when it started to spit with rain. It wasn't long though before a second one ended up in the net and Stan had his first Storm Petrel to ring.

Soon after a third bird was caught which I ringed.

The rain was starting to get heavier so we decided to pack up and head for our beds before we got too wet.

Now we have broken the ice we're more hopeful for the next session.

UPDATE: Andy's initial investigations have revealed that the re-caught Storm Petrel was probably ringed on North Ronaldsay last year.

Reed bed session 29 Jul

Having missed last Friday's session in the reed bed when 64 birds consisting of 9 Reed Buntings, 2 Sand Martins, 27 Sedge Warblers and 26 Swallows were caught, last night saw me join Colin, Brian and Stan for the next session.

It was a pleasant evening when we set the nets up and it wasn't long before we were catching birds. There were even a few birds that thought it was great fun to sit on the top shelf of the net rather than get caught in it!!

As the evening progressed the fog started to roll in off the sea which put a halt on the birds visiting the reed bed so we called it a night.

The total catch was slighty more than the last session with a total of 71 birds caught consisting of 1 Blackbird, 2 Reed Buntings, 12 Sedge Warblers, 1 Starling and 55 Swallows.

One of the two Reed Buntings caught - this one is a male

Totals caught this season so far:

Blackbird               1

Reed Bunting       12

Sand Martin           2

Sedge Warbler      45

Starling                 1

Swallow               81

22 July 2013

Reed bed season begins

Having cleared the rides in our usual reed bed site just over a week ago, tonight was the first night we had the nets up. The first bird caught and ringed was, predictably, a juvenile Sedge Warbler.

Juvenile Sedge Warbler

This was followed by four more juvenile and one adult Sedge Warbler and a juvenile female Reed Bunting.

No Swallows on the first outing but there are some flying overhead so maybe the next visit will bring the first ones of the season.

4 July 2013

That didn't tern out as expected!!

Last night Colin and Stan from the ringing group came over so we could pay a visit to the Arctic Tern colony not far from my house.

There have been in the region of 80 Arctic Terns on the site for the last month. Recent sightings of food being taking in to the colony along with some birds coming over to the nearby track whenever anyone walked along it and swooping down on them were good indicators that breeding was in progress. It is fairly normal here for chicks to be present at the end of June/start of July so it was a good time to take a look.

We set off to the colony and were accompanied by my Uncle, Paul, who is staying with us at the moment.

As we approached the colony the terns took to the air and it wasn't long before we found some bits of eggshells.

Paul found the first chick of the evening but it wasn't a tern. Nestled into the heather was an Oystercatcher chick.

Oystercatcher, the first chick of the evening being ringed
As we worked our way through the colony it quickly became apparent that we were too early as all we were finding were nests with one or two eggs on them.

Arctic Tern nest
When we got to the far end of the colony the second chick of the evening was found by Stan, this time it was a Common Gull .

Common Gull, the second chick to be ringed
It was decided to leave the colony for another week by which time there should be some chicks.

Next we went down to an old wartime building where there was a Swallow nest with four chicks which were now ready for ringing.

Swallow chick
As we wandered around the site we discovered a Blackbird nest with three eggs on it, so I'll be keeping an eye on that with a view to ringing the chicks when they are old enough.

So some more chicks ringed but not the ones we were hoping for.

Thanks to Paul for the photographs.