Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A quiet time of year

March is usually a quiet time for catching and ringing birds but with the spring rapidly advancing we expect to be very busy soon. The group has been making and putting up nest boxes for dippers, redstarts and tawny owls, and we hope to have fifty tawny boxes in place by the autumn to begin an annual monitoring project. The boxes that have been put up so far have been found very quickly though perhaps they are being used for roost sites rather than nesting.

During April we will be catching migrants on Skokholm Island as well as reading colour-rings on puffins as part of the adult survival study started last year.

Today the net rides of our constant effort site at Ty Rhyg were 'managed' before the nesting season gets into full swing. A couple of nets were opened hoping that the great grey shrike might take an interest, but unfortunately he didn't put in an appearance. The 15 birds caught included the first few chiffchaffs of the year and two willow tits including a three year old female. An adult female goldcrest first caught in 2009 weighed 7.8 grams - much the heaviest recorded at the site, presumably about to lay a clutch.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A welcome drop of rain

It's not often that residents of this part of the world are glad when it rains but if you want to catch woodcock it's a big help. This week, as part of a larger project in conjunction with the Woodcock Network and GWCT, Mike Sherman and myself were trying to fit ten geolocators to woodcock to find out more about the whereabouts of their breeding and migration routes. The geolocators were provided by GWCT and kindly funded by Sir Edward Dashward, and they record the daily positions of the birds as they travel to their summer quarters.

Two attempts earlier in the week weren't that productive with only single woodcock caught each night. The reason for this was calm clear conditions making close approach to the birds impossible, but last night's thick cloud and rain produced ideal conditions and we now have nine of the ten birds with geolocators and ready to go. Hopefully we catch them again next winter and find out what they have been up to all year.

All ready to go.