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 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 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.

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