Birds in the hand

2nd June 2014

I have been a trainee bird ringer for about 18 months now, and have enjoyed every minute of it. Today I was invited to help check for Swallow nests and ring young Swallows (pulli) that were big enough to ring. You have to wait until their leg is long enough for the ring to fit as Swallows have very short legs! Three of the broods we found at the stables we visited were big enough to ring.

A young Swallow

A young Swallow

Yesterday I was up bright and early to attend a mist-netting session. So far this year, I haven’t been to many sessions as the weather hasn’t been suitable. The well being of the birds is paramount, so we don’t try catching passerines (perching birds; that includes all UK song birds) if it’s too wet or windy as this could result in injury to the bird. I’m hoping that the weather will improve over the rest of spring and summer so I can do more. We ringed 28 birds in total yesterday – a good variety of species including young Starlings, Whitethroats and Cetti’s Warblers.

Cetti's Warbler in the hand - makes up for the last of photo on Saturday!

Cetti’s Warbler in the hand – makes up for the last of photo on Saturday!

In the afternoon I was invited to help check some Kestrel boxes. Only one of the boxes we checked had young birds in, but they that were too small to ring but we weighed them before returning them to the box. We will have to return in a few weeks time to ring them.

Young Kestrels - slightly too small to be ringed

Young Kestrels – slightly too small to be ringed

As well as mist-netting, I’ve been lucky enough to get involved with cannon netting wading birds with the Farlington Ringing Group over the past year. One project we’ve caught birds for is about Greenshank migration . The wading birds we’ve been catching are colour ringed so individual birds can be reported by anyone – all you need to do is note down the species, its condition  (dead, alive or injured etc), location, date/time and the colour ring combination and submit your sighting to EURING or the ringer/ringing group (you can find out details about colour ringing schemes online). Knowing when and where the birds have been seen, and also what condition they’re in is valuable information.

Colour ringed Greenshank - complete with a geolocator

Colour ringed Greenshank – complete with a geolocator

The Greenshanks are also being fitted with a geolocator which will help us to find out where they migrate to in the spring. Geolocators aren’t as accurate as GPS, but they do give a good idea as to where animals are by recording the hours of daylight. From this, the longitude and latitude can be calculated.

 

 

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