Saturday, 31 August 2013

A really old one!

The only member of GRG to have their own Wikipedia page has just turned 50. Raymond Duncan is a born and raised Aberdonian, and is also the cornerstone of Grampian Ringing Group having capably led the group for well over a decade. His enthusiasm for bird ringing was kindled as a young lad and he has been an avid bird ringer and nester since; spending almost any conceivable moment carrying out some sort of bird ringing related project. During his ringing career he has been recognised for his services to the BTO in being awarded the BTO’s Tucker Medal for outstanding service in 2008. Raymond has not just given his time to furthering our understanding of birds through his countless projects; he has also trained dozens of ringers over the years, providing them with a hugely diverse skills base to build on as they develop under his encouragement and enthusiasm.

Although he is perhaps best known for his waxwing studies which have seen the colour ringing of thousands for birds to allow their irruptions to be followed through the movement of individuals, he is best known to us for his love of coke, chocolate, sweeties and the Beano. So Happy Birthday Raymond (aka “Big nose”, “Ramie wrecker” etc)! 

Up a Christmas tree for LEO's

Always a nester

 Raymie wrecker in action with a gull darvic.

On the cliffs for seabirds

Raymond's invented holder for when we catch loadsa finches

Keeping an eye on trainees with Clunie

A big twite catch c2002

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

5 Terns of 5 Countries

As I blogged about a single tern of 4 countries last time I thought this time I’d give an update of our tern ringing season so far. On still nights at the weekend with favourable tides we have been attempting to catch terns at night. Our main target is sandwich terns and we are steadily amassing a really interesting dataset. Sandwich Tern numbers during a lot of August on our catch sites tends to be fairly low as many of our local breeders move round into the Moray Firth – and a recent deluge of excellent sightings from Findhorn bay indicates this is the case this year. So august can be a relatively quiet period for Sandwich Terns while the local breeders are further north and the mass of continental and British birds still to arrive (hopefully!).

Two of our colour ringed sandwich terns in Findhorn Bay (Richard Somerscocks)

During this lull in Sandwich Tern activity we have been focussing our efforts on Arctic Terns with over 1000 caught so far this Autumn (over double the total number ever caught in a year in the UK previously) and with these good numbers has come excellent information from ringed birds. Although we will have to wait for the recovery details of the ringed birds we have caught we can get a reasonable idea where they are from as 12 of the 41 ringed Arctic Terns caught this autumn have been ringed abroad.

Juvenile Arctic tern (Harry Scott)

Before the end of July we caught 2 Swedish ringed juvenile Arctic Terns, surprising as they had crossed the North Sea so quickly. 5 other juveniles have since been caught with Finnish rings, with 3 on the same night in mid-August. Alongside these Baltic juveniles have been adults from Finland, Estonia and Denmark and it is interesting to see that so many Baltic breeders arrive in the East Coast each autumn. We also caught a Belgian ringed Sandwich tern earlier in the season so we have had 13 foreigners from 5 countries so far this year!

Adult and juvenile little tern (Euan Fergusson)

Alongside the fantastic number of Arctic and reasonable numbers of Sandwich tern we have also caught 3 other species of terns. As well as Common Terns we have caught a small number of Little Terns and a single Black Tern. The latter being the first for Grampian ringing group.

Juvenile Black Tern (Jenny Lennon)