Friday 14 July 2023

Extra curricular summer activities

For the early summer, I have been extremely fortunate to be welcomed on various projects around Wales and England hosted by some wonderful ringing groups.

Pied Flycatchers pulli

I joined Dave Anning and Ceri Jones to their local sites in Llanidloes and the Centre for Alternative Technology, to ring my first passerine pulli.

Species encountered included Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and of course Pied Flycatchers.

Two visits to each site were made and nest box occupancy was generally similar to previous years, however the number of surviving chicks were 2-3 fewer per boxes than expected (possibly attributed to the low numbers of flying insects observed this year).

Comparison of Male and female Nuthatch. 

Portland breakwaters Gull ringing project

Each year the breakwaters  sheltering the waters of Portland Harbour, are visited by the Portland breakwaters ringing group to colour ring Herring and Great Black-backed Gull pulli.

The breakwaters had a distinct Greek island feel to it with intense heat, pale limestone and drought resistant vegetation (which made making finding the gulls tricky).

Active measures are being undertaken to preserve the breeding colonies. Avian influenza is a primary concern, and to minimise risk biosecurity measures were undertaken. These included wearing sterile overalls and disinfecting footwear.

The breakwaters were constructed during Napoleonic times and host incredible military fortifications not normally accessible to the public.

Around 30-40 gulls were ringed over 7 hours of searching the whole length of the breakwaters.

Mid Wales Barn Owl Group

The Mid Wales Barn Owl Group monitor Barn Owl nest sites, and work with landowners to provide new nesting opportunities for the species.

The group offered to show me the best sites in the Machynlleth area, which surprisingly all turned out to be located within 5 minutes of my house. 

Six pulli were ringed in total, following the trend in the area with all signs pointing to 2023 becoming a successful year for the species.

All of these species were new to me, and involved new methods and techniques. I am extremely grateful to all the local groups mentioned.

Additionally the visit to the Portland breakwaters  was made possible by the BTO seabird ringing grant.

(Thom Faulkner)

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