Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Time for supplementary feeding!

Winter Ringing

I usually wait until we've had a few frosty mornings before setting up our 3 winter feeding stations on the reserve, this is when we know that the supplementary feeding comes into it's own, attracting our seed eating birds to head in to our ringing site for a free winter feast.  Feeding the site usually starts at the end of November through to the end of February. Along with these feeding stations there are plentiful berry and fruit bearing trees to provide food for a range of over wintering thrushes, insects and animals too: hedgehogs, badgers, mice, squirrels and even foxes will happily feed on them. I suppose it's more a takeaway "fly thru" rather than a "drive thru".

    One of our winter feeding stations (W.E)

The sunny north side where we chose to process our birds (W.E)
With our site located in a valley, the south side very rarely sees the sun during the winter time as it doesn't rise high enough to defrost this side, this is the side where the 3 feeding stations are located, our nets are erected along side these feeders. The sunny north side of the site is where we set up our ringing base, as you can see from the photo the reasons are self explanatory. Although, we also set out more nets up on the North side so that we can catch the birds that are flying down to the feeders. There are plenty fruit bearing trees in the reserve which attract Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbirds and Jay.

Sunday 27th November

Allan, Andy, Daniel, Laura & myself met at 07:00 at the Reserve car park, this meant we were able to set up our nets before the light started to come through. Although, we flushed a Woodcock in the process, it took off high above our net.
The morning progressed with a steady amount of new birds and re-traps from previous sessions this year, some from a few years back also. It was nice to see some old friends re-caught, a Blue tit that was first ringed in Jan 2012, then even more remarkable a Chaffinch that I had ringed on 10th of October 2009, it was aged as a "3" (born that year), so now over 7 year old! Longevity record for Chaffinch is 12yrs, 12 days (BTO records).

Laura hadn't ever had the pleasure of ringing Redwing before, so you can imagine her excitement as we approached one of the nets and there were 3 waiting for us. She duly ringed and carried out all the biometrics on her first Redwing. Laura had to leave before we packed up because of work commitments but I'm sure she left happy!

We finished the day with 79 birds.

Blue Tit107
Coal Tit


Great Tit210
Long tailed Tit


12 Species4138

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Autumn Ringing

My first Common Crossbill ringed in Lothian.

It was down in Thetford Forest that I had first ringed Crossbill....that was nearly 6 years ago.

Having finished our CES visits for this year and recently gained permission to carry out ringing on a local estate, I thought I'd have a look to see if there are any Crossbills around a certain part of the estate, I have seen them here frequently while surveying in the past.

After a few hours over a few days of watching in various locations I was able to pin point where they were feeding and drinking, I finally decided on a area where they seemed to come down from the tree tops to a small ditch which they used regularly for a drink. I proceeded to set up 2 x 12m, 3 panel nets along the ditch line from where they had been drinking. I counted 18 altogether feeding on the pine cones above where I had set the nets, a lovely mix of male & females, the sun shining on the males made their stunning distinctive brick red plumage stand out amongst the greenish-brown females.

After an hour of having the nets set up and regularly checking them, I then noticed a bird in one of the nets, there it was, my first Common Crossbill ringed in Lothian, although I was slightly disappointed it wasn't a male I was very grateful that after all the hours I had spent watching them, I eventually managed to catch one.

Looking at the annual ringing records for Common Crossbill across Britain and Ireland in 2015,  a total of 82 were ringed, it's certainly been along time since any were ringed in the Lothian's.

Female Common Crossbill (W.E)