Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The RAS is on

A new long term study measuring adult survival in a population of wheatears on Mynydd Preseli has just started. It is hoped to catch and colour-ring all the breeding adults in a defined area on the north slopes of Mynydd Preseli as part of the BTO's "Ringing Adults for Survival" scheme (RAS). Every year all the resighted individuals will be recorded to measure survival between breeding seasons, and any new recruits will also be colour-ringed to top up the sample. It hoped to catch all 60 adults in the study plot over the next month - so far five have been caught during the initial visit.

A smart adult male wheatear with newly fitted colour rings

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Des res for dippers and more migrant waders

Last week we checked the nine dipper boxes put up during March and early April under various bridges in the Preseli area, thinking that they were probably put up too late to be used this season. We were very pleased to find that three were already occupied including a dipper nest containing a brood of five that will be fledging any day now from a box that didn't go up until 4th April. They must have started to move in as we walked away from the bridge. Unfortunately I accidentally deleted the pics taken whilst ringing the brood before I could get them off the camera. The other two occupied boxes had a dipper on eggs and a newly lined grey wagtail nest.

The wader passage is still in full swing with whimbrel and dunlin dominating the scene. So far, 34 whimbrel and 9 dunlin have been ringed, all of which are stunning in their summer plumage.

summer plumage dunlin

two whimbrel (one with a bill as long as male curlew)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Tawny Boxes

Over the last two or three years about 35 Tawny Owl boxes have been put up, some in the south of the county in broadleaf woodland and some in the conifer plantations in the Preseli area. Most of these have now been checked, and almost all have shown signs of being used by Tawny Owls, but only four were used for breeding, including this brood of two ringed by John and Paul at Kilpaison.

It seems that the local Tawny Owl population includes many non-breeders, which is perhaps a sign that in terms of numbers we have a very healthy population within the county. More monitoring over the long term is the only way to tell.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Whimbrels worth waiting for

After two or three seasons trying to find a site to catch whimbrels with a lamp and landing net, and failing abysmally, it was a relief to finally catch some using the tried and tested method of a mist net. We have been keen to try and research some of the commonest birds that visit the county and whimbrel pass through every spring in their hundreds or perhaps thousands, though none are ringed to see where they are going or coming from. Tony Cross initiated a colour-ringing scheme which has had some amazing results (see ruffled feathers) but the ten rings he sent me  have just been rattling around somewhere in the back of the car, until last night when Paul brought his lucky mist net and we caught five new birds.


 Also new in recently are most of the summer migrants including  the whitethroat and gropper  below

adult male whitethroat