Monday, 30 May 2011

Colour Ringing Gulls

We have started a new colour ringing project: Herring Gulls (and Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gulls if we can get our hands on them). "The North East Scotland Gull project" as I've just decided to call it will see us putting colour rings on any large gull we catch in the Grampian and Tay area, with Ben Herschell from Tay Ringing Group colour ringing gulls in and around Montrose.
   We ringed our first birds today, caught by hand at a legendary site we refer to as "the magic fence." Hopefully they will be the first of many this summer, as we are soon getting to the period when gulls are easy to catch. They lose all caution and common sense when they have chicks, as they desperately try to secure Asda smart price bread for them

Catching at the Magic Fence - thanks to Keith Barker for sending us this photo Another bird caught later in the Burger King car park!

Please look out for our gulls, all have a yellow ring on the left leg, with the letter T followed by a colon and three numbers.
Euan, Calum and Raymondo

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Scarce passage migrant twitch ringing!

We had a scarce passage migrant visitor mid week in the shape of Richie Hearn from WWT Slimbridge, always a welcome addition to the year's list. Last bird he ringed was red breasted goose in Bulgaria (and probably Brazilian Merganser in Brazil before that) so it was no wonder he was looking a bit glum when he was given some juvy linnet rtps to look at!

His face brightened up a bit when he was told there was a linnet brood needing ringing though.......a pullus ringing tick for him!

He dipped on mipit pullus (already ringed) and goldfinch and whitethroat which were too wee to ring.

We are onto the last of first brood linnets now and building well underway for 2nd broods. We had a nice example of 'rabbit syndrome' typical of some of these carduellis finches last week. As we approached a gorse bush containing a nest with c10 day old chicks we noticed the female arriving with nest material closely followed by the male. Once the female disappeared into her new nest (about a metre from the 1st nest) the male nipped over to the first nest to feed the chicks and came back over with a faecal sack in beak just in time to accompany the female away for more nest material........TOTALS!

Raymond, Calum and Euan

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

More Girdleness-ting

Linties are now well on-stream with 11 broods ringed today, with our total now standing on 99 chicks. We have a similar number of titchy chicks that'll be for ringing next weekend. Few failures with their ring of gorse defence but same can’t be said for the ground nesting mipits and skylark with quite a few failures but 3 broods of mipos now ringed (below).
50th lintie nest was well found by Calum and appropriately marked with a Thornton’s Easter Bunny ribbon (see photos below).
We are used to finding goldfinch nests at the end of high sycamore branches in winter once the leaves are off the trees but at this site they have taken to using head high dog roses……..luvly (photo below). First brood ringed today and a further 2 on eggs. Some adults were clap netted as well as skylark and meadow pipits. We also got a control lintie……..L627288 Any takers?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Lintie nesting

Despite another cold snowy spell last winter our breeding linnet numbers seem to be buoyant and thriving, at least in their favourite habitat in the coastal gorse bushes. First 3 broods were ringed last weekend with another 30+ lined up for the next few weekends. Main threat is burning by vandals with one or two nests and favoured gorse clumps already gone. Our major stick twatting day to find all the nests we’d missed during building proved a bit disappointing with most female linnets sitting very tight in the cool and misty conditions (see photo above). Other nests included pied wagtail, blackbird chicks, a well sign posted goldfinch (see photo below), swallow building, a few meadow pipits and an early rock pipit with young chicks.

Top tip for finding meadow pipit nests: Stand in a group in the rough grass and yap for a few minutes……it eventually unnerves the sitting bird and it flutters off………2 found by this very skilful method!

Watch out for a photo of Rotti Man (The Viz ornithologist) next posting.

Raymond and team

Ravens in Grampian

This week we also ringed a new species for the group – Raven. Although common in other parts of the country this species seems to be just starting to recover from the severe persecution they have suffered. A few pairs are now breeding in the region and this is the first brood to be ringed by the group. We have also heard recently of a golden eagle tracked by the RSPB, which was found poisoned in Glenbuchat in Strathdon, so there are obviously still individuals deliberately killing protected birds in our uplands. We wish our ravens chicks all the best and hope them a long happy life, unlike the poor golden eagle.
Brood of 3 ravens. Photo by Ewan Weston
Poisoned golden eagle. Photo RSPB

Sandwich terns coming north

Since our sighting in Namibia in February we have had 3 more sightings as the terns start to move North to breed. Our first came from Lanzarote (EDB) in early April followed 20 days later by another bird sighted in the Netherlands (EAS). EAS was also seen on the 9th of May at the same site in the Netherlands, suggesting that it may be breeding nearby. There are no sandwich terns breeding in this part of the Netherlands, so it will be interesting to see if this bird remains in the area or turns up elsewhere.
EAS photographed in the Netherlands – Fred Visscher 20/4/2011
So far we have had 70 re-sightings of 200 colour ringed individuals. Nine of these were outside of the UK. We have also had a recent recovery of a sandwich tern ringed as a chick in 2006 on the Ythan Estuary that was recovered on 31st of March in ICELAND. This is the first UK recovery of a sandwich tern in Iceland.