Friday, 11 August 2017

Sand Martin Ringing

After gaining permission from East Lothian Council Ranger service to study one of the Sand Martin colony's on their reserve, there seemed no time like the present to carry out a first visit to the colony at the end of June this year.

Nick Aitken who has been with ELC ranger service for over 13 years was very interested in coming along to see how the birds were caught and biometrics taken at the time of ringing these birds....off course Nick knew all about Bird Ringing as LRG had been involved in helping out with previous ringing demonstrations in conjunction with ELC & BTO at RSPB's Big nature festival which had been held near this site for 2 years prior.

I had let Nick know that if he was definitely interested in coming along it would be a fairly early start, setting up the nets in the dark prior to the Sand Martins coming out of their nest holes before sunrise.

We both duly arrived on site and set 1x18m and 1x12m along the ash-bank prior to sun rise around 03:15hrs....the wind was slowly picking up, the site is situated where the westerly wind was making it obvious that we wouldn't have the nets set up too long....in fact after the first net round I decided that we should take the net down as it had picked up that much in the space of an hour.

However, Nick wasn't to be too disappointed at losing half his nights sleep as we managed to catch 24 birds on the first and only net round of the morning.

It was a real learning curve for Nick especially as he had been monitoring this particular site for some years to gauge how many were nesting here, to then have them in the hand and so close up ageing, sexing, wing length & weight prior to releasing them within a matter of minutes of this happening was he said a real privilege.

We're hopeful that this colony will hold enough birds for it to become part of a BTO project -"Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) scheme which is a national standardised ringing programme within the BTO Ringing Scheme that has been running since 1999. Ringers aim to catch or re-sight at least 50 adult birds of a single species in a study area during the breeding season. The study area is well defined and the ringer is aiming to record the vast majority of the adults". © British Trust for Ornithology.



Nick releasing his first Sand Martin as the sun rises
Closer than ever before 

 Measuring wing length

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank East Lothian Council for allowing LRG to carry out this study. Particular thanks to Nick Aitken & Neil Clark.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

CES Visit 10 06/08/2017





The early morning alarm is very much a struggle on a Sunday morning.... even more so when you know the rest of the family are still tucked up in bed. So what makes it special for us involved with CES ringing? Yes, it is of course the sight that the rest of the family won't see too often....a beautiful sunrise.

I suppose maybe arriving on site for 05:00hrs is a longer lay in than some ringers participating in this project have, there are more than 140 sites over the UK which also have teams that set their alarms early, making sure they also waken up at an unearthly hour to complete these visits.

It's not just the sunrise that entices us to get out early, it is also the uncertainty of what will be caught on this visit that lures us out....is a rarity going to grace our nets to-day....we certainly weren't disappointed....it was something that has become much more of a rarity on our site....Greenfinch! This was the first one we have caught on site since a winter ringing session in Feb 2015....the last time we caught one during a CES visit was June 2012.... forgive us for getting excited when we seen this one in our nets today.

The first Greenfinch caught on one of our
Constant effort visit's since June 2012

It's hard to imagine that Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap & Common Whitethroat are much more abundant on our site, the habitat is more than adequate to cater for breeding Greenfinch. This is one of the main reason's why we all look forward to the alarm going off in the small hours of a Sunday morning, we can then try to understand what's happening when monitoring our bird populations through the Constant Effort Scheme, this way we can hopefully take appropriate action where it's required.

One of 6 Common Whitethroat caught to-day
38 birds were caught to-day compared to 26 on the same visit last year.
Species Total New Retraps
Blackcap
4

Blue Tit
1

Bullfinch
3

Chiffchaff
8
2
Great Tit

2
Greenfinch
1

Robin
2
1
Willow Warbler
2

Whitethroat
5
1
Wren
4
2
10 Species
30
8

LRG's other CES visit 10 was much more productive to-day....with the re-trap Blackbird coming back to the site after initially being ringed in 2014. It's also very pleasing to see that Willow Warblers and Blackcap numbers were up to-day compared to previous visits! 

Species Total New Retraps
Blackbird

1
Blackcap
10
2
Bullfinch
1
1
Chiffchaff
1

Goldcrest
3
1
Great Tit
1
3
Long Tailed Tit
6
2
Robin
3

Treecreeper
2

Whitethroat
1

Willow Warbler
8

Wren
3
1
12 Species
39
11

Friday, 4 August 2017

CES Visit 9 29/07/2017


Although we were up on some species this visit 9, we were down on our catch from the same visit last year with 46 birds caught today with last years visit 9 producing 55 birds.

Species Total New Retraps
Blackbird

1
Blackcap 2

Blue Tit 2 1
Bullfinch 5
Chaffinch 3
Chiffchaff 13 1
Dunnock 2
Great Tit
2
Robin 3 2
Willow Warbler 2
Whitethroat 2
Wren 5

12 Species 39 7

A comparison from LRGs other CES site today produced a couple of species that we have caught on ours in the past...Redstart & Sparrowhawk. However, we are very unlikely to catch Kingfisher on our site. The river Almond flows past this CES site, whereas the closest we have to a water body is a small pond that fills up at the bottom of our site when we have a heavy rainfall, which is more frequent than not, so you never know, this summer weather that we're experiencing at present we might just......

Species Total New Retraps
Blackbird

1
Blackcap 5
Blue Tit 4 2
Chiffchaff 2 1
Coal Tit 1

Great Tit 5 2
Kingfisher 1

Long tailed tit 1

Redstart 1

Robin 4

Sparrowhawk 1

Treecreeper 1

Willow Warbler 5
Whitethroat 4
Wren

1
15 Species 35 7

CES Visit 8 14/07/2017

This visit we managed to retrap a breeding female Blue Tit that was born in 2011, we have caught her every year since then, apart from 2016 when we thought she had maybe died, so it was a nice surprise to see her back on our site this year still looking sprightly. Although she is now 6 she has a few more years to catch up as the BTO longevity record for a Blue Tit is 10yrs.

50 birds were caught to-day, this visit was a vast improvement on last years Visit 8 with only 32 birds caught on the same visit.


Species Total New Retraps
Blackcap

1
Blue Tit
2
3
Chaffinch
1

Chiffchaff
8
1
Dunnock
3

Goldfinch
1

Great Tit

2
Robin
8
2
Treecreeper

1
Willow Warbler
4
1
Whitethroat
3

Wren
6
3
12 Species
36
14

CES Visit 7 07/07/17

We have Magpie nesting on our CES site and we often see and hear them more than we catch them, in the last 10 years we have only caught one on our site that has flown into our nets before today. It was a pleasant surprise for one of our trainee's who had never encountered a Magpie being caught, he duly got to process the bird and experience how tight a grip they can have around a finger.


Try not to let it grip your finger...oops too late
SpeciesTotal NewRetraps
Blackcap
4

Blue Tit
2

Bullfinch
2
1
Chiffchaff
4
1
Dunnock
4
1
Goldcrest
1

Great Tit
1
2
Magpie
1

Robin
5

Song Thrush
1

Treecreeper
3
1
Willow Warbler
2

Whitethroat
1

Wren
3
2
14 Species
34
8