The critical decline of Curlew is well documented and your help is required in reporting all sightings of recently colour-ringed birds.
Some Curlew wintering on the Usk and Severn have been ringed, using six rings on the legs. These birds may of course travel west and be seen here in East Glamorgan. Information on their whereabouts will help conservation efforts.
The key colour rings to identify individuals are the single ring on the left tibia (upper leg – orange in photo), and the two rings on the right tibia (blue and lime green in photo). There is a metal ring on the right tarsus, and two colours on the left tarsus to denote the project (yellow and white in photo).
Andrew Strong is collating information on re-sightings of any of these birds on behalf of the BTO. Please email Andrew details of any colour-ringed Curlew that you see, to firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll get back in touch with you to let you know the birds’ history.
Usk marked wintering birds have been reported on their breeding grounds in both Poland and Finland. Any further sightings of your birds will be published in the Gwent Ornithological Society Newsletter, or see http://www.curlewcall.org
Just a couple of things I picked up online this week which may be of interest:
BBC Radio 4 Living World: Nest Finder of Dartmoor
Mark Lawrence is a brilliant nest finder and contributes 100s of Nest Records to the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme. The nests he finds are hidden deep in the bracken, gorse and grass of Dartmoor. But how does he find them? Lionel Kelleway goes on a nest-finding expedition with Mark to watch him in action. In just one morning Mark and Lionel find Pipits’ nests, two of which have been taken over by Cuckoo chicks; a Whinchat brood just hatched and finally a nest of young Grasshopper Warbler chicks.
If you’ve never tried nest recording before and this programme enthuses you, you may be interested in taking part in our Nest Recording Taster Day in Rudry, Caerphilly in May. The date of which will be published on this blog very soon.
Oxwich Ringing Report 2016
Owain Gabb and his team have been ringing at Oxwich Marsh on Gower for four years. In 2016 3,281 birds of 52 species were ringed there. There’s plenty of interesting information in this review of the year at Oxwich. Amongst the headlines: it was a good year for Grasshopper Warbler, Common and Jack Common Snipe and a poor year for Blackcap. The Report also contains plenty of examples of notable controls and recaptures.
Lewis James, a colleague in work, told me about a ringed Black-headed Gull he frequently sees on the handrail of the boardwalk that runs alongside the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. He grabbed a photograph of it one morning and managed to read the numbers and lettering: ‘2K64’ .
‘2K64’ turns out to have been ringed by John Wells as a nestling on 2nd June, 2008 as part of a study of Black-headed Gulls breeding in the Cotswold Water Park (CWP) on the Glos/Wilts border. It was next seen in Cardiff Bay in November 2010, at a landfill site at Bishops Cleeve, Glos in March 2011 and it returned to the Cotswold Water Park to breed in May 2012. It may be five and a half years old but it should have a few years left in it yet – the typical lifespan of a Black-headed Gull is 11 years.
John is a member of the Cotswold Water Park Ringing Group (CWPRG) who have been visiting breeding colonies of Black-headed Gulls at the CWP since 2004 to fit nestlings with a metal BTO ring and a Darvic ring. The purpose of this project is to monitor the birds’ movements and to study their return to the CWP to breed. A significant number have been sighted away from the CWP and thanks to the group’s efforts we now know that many of the CWP birds migrate South and West in winter to Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Spain. A few also stay in the CWP over winter and a large number of the adults breeding in the CWP were ringed there as nestlings.
You have to admire ringers. They’re a dedicated bunch, plying their trade week in, week out at highly unsociable hours, often with low returns and freezing cold fingers! They depend on the rest of us making the effort to report sightings of ringed and colour ringed birds. To report a ringed bird please visit the Euring web page where you’ll find a step by step guide of how to submit your sighting.
The Cardiff Blackbird Project was established in April 2012 to examine the ecology, behaviour and demography of urban birds using Blackbirds as a model.
The Blackbird has many traits that make it ideal as a model species. It is common, making for large data sets. It is a relatively large species, meaning it is easy to observe. Blackbirds are also widespread, which allows comparison between populations in different habitats and geographical scales.
The project is based around developing a long-term monitoring programme, contributing to the Retrapping Adults for Survival scheme, on which a number of more detailed research projects examining Blackbird ecology in a suburban environment will be based. Currently the study site for the project is the northern part of Pontcanna Fields, in the area which includes the allotments and Cardiff Riding School.
The success of these projects relies on having a large population of individually marked birds that can be followed throughout the year. Unique plastic colour-rings are fitted so that individuals can be recognised through binoculars or a telescope, avoiding the need to capture birds multiple times. The colour-rings in use are yellow with black letters and are placed on the left leg. A standard BTO metal ring is on the right leg.
Each year, one or two Glamorgan birders are fortunate to see an Osprey flying overhead as it makes its way north or south on its annual migration. In recent years, birds have also spent a few days in late summer feeding up at estuaries in the west of the county.
Feeding exclusively on fish, Ospreys spend the winter in west Africa, avoiding the risk of frozen water bodies in the UK. Young birds are thought to spend their first two years in Africa, before returning north to embark on their first breeding attempts.
We now have a second pair of Ospreys breeding in Wales. This year a pair has settled on the Dyfi and are currently rearing three chicks. This is in addition to the Glaslyn pair that have been returning each summer since 2004.
News has now been released that all three Dyfi chicks will be ringed and have small solar-powered satellite trackers attached later this month. The trackers will allow researchers to follow the birds as they travel vast distances over many years, and develop a much better understanding of the species movements and ecology.
Mist nets are commonly used by researchers to capture birds in the study of their behaviour, movements and demographics. A recently published study has, for the first time, evaluated the risks associated with mist netting.
Mortality and injury rates were quantified from over 300,000 birds caught by 22 banding (ringing) organisations across the US and Canada. Risk factors which could increase rates of injury or mortality including bird size, age, frequency of capture and the role of predators were all assessed.
Results indicate that injury and mortality rates below one percent can be achieved during mist netting and injured birds are likely to survive in comparable numbers to uninjured birds after release. Rates of incident varied among species, with some at greater risk than others.
Mist netting then has low rates of incident when conducted with adequate training and bird safety precautions in mind.
Spotswood, Erica N. et al (2011) How safe is mist netting? evaluating the risk of injury and mortality to birds. Methods in Ecology & Evolution. Article first published online: 30 June 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2011.00123.x