Sunday, 4 February 2018

04/02/20018

It was -3 degrees and dark when we arrived at 06:45 to start setting the nets up for our first New Year session one of our local sites. The feeders are filled frequently over the winter period to make sure our on site breeding birds are kept in tip-top condition for the season ahead.

Our on-site fly-thru selection keeps our resident birds from going hungry over the winter.
As usual the the first round is always pretty slow to start with, 5 birds caught, a re-captured Wren that was ringed on 26/03/17....the first 2 of 10 new Blackbirds of the morning were also caught....this is the most Blackbirds that have been caught in a morning session on site, there must have been a fall of Blackbirds the night before as the site was holding much more than we usually see or catch.

The next round would have also been pretty quiet if there wasn't a small family of Long-tailed tits visiting the fat balls on one of our net rides - 6 of them caught altogether 3 new and 3 re-traps which were ringed together back on 13/11/2016, always good to know that they have survived a couple of years together. A Treecreeper was also in amongst this catch which was ringed as a juvenile on CES visit 5 in June 2017.

As the sun started to come through and the mist lifted the subsequent rounds brought out a lot more Blue, Coal & Great tits....it was pleasing once again to re-capture our oldest bird of the day - a male Great tit, ringed in August 2014, hopefully he's back on site to put claim to a nest box with the female we caught in the same net, she was ringed in November 2016?

Our last round of the day produced the star of the day....A male Great-spotted finger pecker. This bird was a recent addition to the database, he was ringed at our ringing session that we had with East Lothian Council junior rangers back in November, as you can see if you take your eye of him for one minute while holding him, he'll thank you nicely for supplying a never ending source of suet and peanuts for it to feed on, I suppose it didn't draw too much blood!


Thank-you



Friday, 24 November 2017

Ringing Demo for East Lothian Council Junior Rangers 24/11/2017

This demo was a couple of months in the planning as the Junior Rangers diary is a very busy one. Although we had pencilled in another date incase the weather was going to be inclement, although we wanted this date to go ahead as we know how busy they are. The time we had pencilled in for them to come along was 14:00hrs, the forecast the day before predicted no rain....why do we look at forecasts? On the morning of the 24th it now predicted wind & rain in the afternoon, of course we are at the mercy of the weather and we were now uncertain if it was such a good idea to continue. The consensus was we did and hope for the best, if it came to the time when the Junior rangers were due to arrive and the weather took a turn for the worse then we would make that decision to postpone and just have a walk around the site to further their outdoor education about the importance of our site with its SSSI status for its scrub habitats and associated breeding birds.                                                                                                                         

Richard English, Jen Newcombe & Duncan Priddle all work as full time wardens with E.L.C and are out most Friday afternoons with the Juniors....Duncan is a qualified bird ringer and a member of Lothian RG who was already acquainted with some of the juniors that were coming along to-day.
It was windy & raining when we arrived at 13:00hrs to set up our nets prior to the Juniors arriving, it very much looked like we were going to have to postpone this demo and have some very disappointed faces when they arrived.

It was now13:40hrs we were starting to become worried but suddenly the rain stopped....we quickly opened our nets before their arrival....we thought even if we managed to catch a few birds before the rain started again then at least they would experience the thrill of being involved with how we catch and process the birds prior to releasing them while all the time explaining why we do carry out bird ringing and the scientific value behind the BTO ringing scheme.

12 of the regular Juniors had excitedly wanted to come along to our demo, it was also such a pleasant surprise to see our local artist Darren Woodhead come along with his 3 Juniors....15 Juniors on the day had the pleasure of witnessing (at least the majority of them for the first time) wild birds being caught & released by trained bird ringers.

We seen the minibus then heard the Juniors arriving, as it's a few minutes walk from the carpark to where we had set up our base we decided to go and check our nets so that we had a few birds for them to see as they arrived.....it was pretty cold and didn't want them hanging around too long before experiencing what they had come along to see.





















As they arrived and hurriedly gathered around our table we managed to bring back a small selection of birds for them to try and guess which bird species it was.....of course most of them knew what they were.....especially when a very excited cry went out from one of the Juniors "wow- a woodpecker" we don't catch a lot of woodpeckers on our site...maybe 2 a year so to catch 3 Great spotted woodpeckers in a 2 hour session was not only pleasing for the ringers but especially for the Juniors, to witness them so close up in the hand was pretty special....you can imagine how many hands went up when asked who would like to release them!

Laura one of our LRG ringers explaining how to
carefully release the Woodpecker
Throughout the 2 hours when the Juniors were along we managed to catch 25 birds of 6 species....Blue + Great tits were also much of a favourite for them to see so close up....one Junior in particular was hoping that we could catch one of his favourite birds and up until the very last moment as we were taking the nets down we managed to catch 2 of his favourite birds which was a Robin.

Duncan explaining how we catch the birds in the mist nets

"Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and myself and Jen were chatting afterwards about what a success it was, there was nothing but positivity regarding the day (once they’d warmed up)". (Richard English E.L.C)

Saturday, 26 August 2017

CES Visit 12 26/08/2017

32 birds were caught on our final visit. It was clear to see that the majority of our breeding migrant birds had left our site or maybe we didn't see or hear any apart from Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Common Whitethroat hadn't been caught since visit 10 and the only other migrant apart from Chiff on Visit 11 was a Willow Warbler....so it's confirmation this year again that Chiff's are the first to arrive and last to depart on our site at least.

So the CES season now on our site now comes to a close.....we look forward to next season and hopefully many of our birds will return to breed again.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from Lothian Ringing Group who kindly gave up their spare time to come along and help out during the 12 CES visit's.


Species Total New Retraps
Blackbird
2

Blackcap
2

Blue Tit
1
2
Bullfinch
2
2
Chiffchaff
3
1
Dunnock
4
2
Goldcrest
2
1
Great Tit

2
Robin
2
1
Song Thrush
1

Wren
1
1
11 Species
20
12


LRG's other CES faired much better on their 12th visit as below with 15 species and 46 birds caught.

Species Total New Retraps
Blackcap
4
2
Blue Tit
1
2
Bullfinch
2
1
Chiffchaff
7
2
Common Whitethroat
1

Dunnock
3

Garden Warbler
1

Goldcrest
3
2
Great Tit

1
Long Tailed Tit
1
2
Kingfisher
1

Robin
7

Treecreeper

1
Willow Warbler
1

Wren
1

15 Species
33
13

They also went on to do another 2 extra CES visits to gauge what was still hanging around after the 12 visits were completed. Again like our site only Chiffchaff & Blackcap remained....they were also rewarded with another Kingfisher!
Well worth an extra visit 


SpeciesTotal NewRetraps
Blackcap
4

Blue Tit
2
2
Bullfinch
3
2
Chaffinch
1

Chiffchaff
4
1
Coal Tit
1

Dunnock
2
1
Goldcrest
1
2
Long Tailed Tit
1

Kingfisher
1

Wren
4
1
15 Species
24
9





Sunday, 13 August 2017

CES Visit 11 13/08/2017

Visit 11 was a little disappointing... only 28 birds caught compared to last year where 42 birds were caught on the same visit.

Although the majority we were catching were still mainly juveniles there was that feeling that a lot of our birds that we had caught on previous sessions were maybe departed. We did catch a Chiffchaff that we had first ringed last year as a juvenile, we discovered that it had now come back as a breeding female to the site where it had been born....always amazing to have these birds return, makes it all worth while for the effort that we all put in!


                       We managed to catch 4 Bullfinch to-day, 3 Juvenile and an adult female.
2 of the 3 juvenile Bullfinch that we had caught on Visit 11
Although we were disappointed with the overall number of birds we caught, we were rewarded with our first Yellowhammer caught during a CES visit and the first caught on our site since winter ringing in November 2013.

Species Total New Retraps
Blackcap
1
1
Blue Tit

2
Bullfinch
4

Chiffchaff
2
3
Dunnock
1
1
Great Tit
1

Robin
1
1
Song Thrush
1

Willow Warbler
1

Wren
4
2
Yellowhammer
1

11 Species
17
10

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