Thursday, 21 March 2013

Looking forward to Spring

Despite the chilly conditions and last year's depressing summer weather, we are still inexplicably optimistic  about spring's imminent arrival and John, Paul and PJ have made an assortment of nest boxes over the last month or so using workshop facilities at Valero refinery, Pembroke. Target species this year have been Tawny Owl, Redstart and Dipper. The redstart boxes were trialed last year in open conifer plantations and were a success in that three out of six boxes were used by redstarts rather than taken up by by blue tits and great tits, which seem to have the ability to spontaneously form no matter where the box is placed. With the permission and help from local forest manager, Huw Denman, we now have 30 redstart boxes in conifer woods in addition to another 15 sited in other suitable open habitat.

A box designed for redstarts in open conifers, Preseli

One of last year's redstart chicks from a nest box at  Ty Rhyg

Whilst there is never a bad time of year to put up a nest box, the newly sited dipper and tawny owl boxes are up too late for this breeding season; these are early breeders and many have already laid a clutch of eggs.
However they will become useful as roost sites straight away and especially once this years young become independent.

One of the dipper boxes put up yesterday

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

More Golden Plover

Last night at one of the regular study sites for Woodcock (Stackpole) there were fewer birds than expected for this site perhaps indicating that some woodcock have taken advantage of the settled weather to start their journey eastwards to their breeding grounds. A big surprise was a small flock of 25 Golden Plover in dairy pasture where they have never been recorded at night before. Perhaps these are birds passing through, or maybe the activities on the nearby Castlemartin firing range displaced them from their usual fields on the range. Altogether, 9 Goldies and 4 Woodcock were ringed.

1st Winter Golden Plover ready to go 

(Paul and Paddy)

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Going for Gold

The conditions were not ideal for lamping last night - not a breath of wind and a beautiful starry night -but we decided to go anyway to have a last go at trying to catch woodcock before they migrate east in a week or so. There were still plenty of woodcock, with around 30 seen, but only one caught as they were extremely jumpy and impossible to get close to. We also ringed a skylark and a snipe. Then we came to a field with quite a few golden plover and our depression changed to elation as we managed to catch 14 including two retraps from earlier this winter. Unfortunately, in the excitement we forgot to take photos, but some were starting to moult into summer plumage and starting to look very smart. Here's a photo of the snipe..

Paul W and Paddy J