8 Jul 2014

Swallows and Catterick CES

A busy weekend last weekend for me! Bad weather Friday meant John & I had to revise our plans to revisit the farm where we study the Swallows and we eventually met up on Saturday morning. of the existing known nests there was one 2nd brood to small to ring and two birds on eggs.

Noticing a pair of birds entering through a broken window previously unproductive building we explored and I heard chicks calling from a ledge about 10 m off the ground that, in a previous year, had held a Blackbirds nest. A quick climb of the ladder and we found a Swallows nest within the old Blackbirds nest with three well grown young with one dead one found below.

In the same building we also discovered an old nest in the process of being repaired with wet mud around the rim. Whether this is a late new pair or a second brood we'll have to wait and see.
Sadly we also found another nest with a long dead Swallow lying on the ground beneath it and a nest of addled eggs. The bird was to far decomposed to work out what had happened but it possibly starved during a spell of cold wet weather we've had recently.

Every year since I started retraining for my ringing permit we've made the pilgrimage Foxglove Covert on Catterick Garrison to help wit halt least one of their CES days. This year it was just Scott & me who traveled Saturday evening ready for the 04.00 alarm call Sunday morning. its always nice to visit other ringing sites and Tony Crease and his team makes really welcome. Although not the busiest CES we've ever experienced Scott still got to handle two new species - Treecreeper and Marsh Tit and there was even a spare one of each for me to ring!

There was very few warblers around with only a handful of Chiffchaffs & Willow Warblers being caught, two Blackcaps and a single Garden Warbler. Apparently a wet spell in the middle of nesting wiped out a lot of these birds.

As well as the birds Foxglove Covert is teeming with other wildlife and the recent weather has been very conducive to both Spotted Orchids and Butterflies. Ringlets were everywhere and we even managed a few quick flight views of several Dark Green Fritillaries.

Although totals were down we were still kept busy and a total of 18 species being processed. Totals included an amazing 20 new Bullfinches and 40 new Chaffinches as well as a pair of retrap Reed Buntings.
With good company, sausage rolls, birthday cake and endless cups of tea it was a long 11 hour ringing marathon but well worth the journey.

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