Friday, 13 March 2015

Last woodcock of the winter?

While out last night on what will probably turn out to be the final lamping session of this winter, three woodcock were ringed out of five seen, together with a redwing and a meadow pipit. Numbers of woodcock in February were noticeably lower than in the same month in 2013 which had followed a snowy January, but catching conditions have been better so a personal total of 84 captures is not too dissimilar to the average of 99 over 5 previous winters. Other species have also been encountered in lower numbers than usual including redwing with just 4 ringed. Perhaps they prefer to roost in more sheltered sites than open fields during wet and windy conditions, or maybe there are fewer birds this far west than usual. The total for snipe (18) is the highest ever though this is more down to the cloudy, windy nights making them (slightly) easier to catch.

Poised and ready to fly to Russia, maybe the final woodcock to be ringed this winter

Hardly any redwings have been seen in the Pembs fields this winter and this was only the 4th to be ringed


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Waders and owls

Eight members of the group made another trip to our main wader site at the weekend during a brief spell of calm conditions which resulted in a catch of 47 individuals. Not only is this the highest so far at this site but it was also the bulkiest with 21 curlews, 13 oystercatchers and 11 redshank, all of which are target species for our new colour-ringing project. Unfortunately this project is not yet underway as it is still awaiting approval to use the intended combinations, so no birds were fitted with rings, but at least it gives confidence that sufficient numbers of individuals will be caught to establish a viable project.

Adult curlew
Most of us are unfamiliar with seeing curlew in the hand at this time of year so there was a good deal of deliberation over how to correctly age them: the above bird was aged as adult based on the even age of the feathers, though some birds appeared ambiguous.

Three curlews and a teal being processed 

The adult oystercatchers (age code  = 10, or 4 years +) were startlingly bright

This adult male barn owl was first ringed by John as a nestling 12km away in 2013. It was quite a surprise to find it in a wader net.

This tawny owl was caught last week visiting a garden on the Pembs/Carms border