30 Mar 2020

Ness Gardens ringing demo

A few weeks ago we were asked to do another ringing demo at Ness Gardens. Unfortunately the decision was taken to cancel the official event but with a number of people still expected it was decided the ringing would go ahead. It's lovely meeting adults and children and explaining what we are doing and seeing their joy at seeing even common birds close up. We didn't catch much but had some interesting species to show people including this gorgeous adult male Bullfinch.

This bird is a full adult now in its 3rd year (Euring 6). Birds fledged last year would have a brown tip to the carpal covert. This one has a nice white tip - see below:

Other species caught were Great-spottted Woodpecker and Nuthatch whilst everyone's garden favourite, the Robin, was popular!

 Ness gardens also hosts a good dispaly of Purple Toothwort at this time of year. This is a parasitic plant that was originally introduced from France many years ago but has become naturalised (although not common) in the UK.  Ness is one of the best places to see it in the north west.

It doesn't photosynthesise like most plants but obtains its nutrients from being parasitic on the roots of its host plant - these are mainly alders, willows and poplars.
It was also nice to see a number of Common Toads out and about and so far this spring seems to have been a good one for amphibians.

24 Mar 2020

Turnstone data loggers

SCAN ringing group have an ongoing project fitting data loggers to Turnstone in N. Wales as part of a project to find out where these birds breed in the high arctic and where they stop off on their migration routes. Getting approval for such a project from the Home Office and the bird ringing special methods committee has taken some time but a few weeks ago we got the approval and a team was soon assembled to canon net Turnstone and fit the data loggers before these birds set off for their breeding grounds. 21 data loggers were funded and at over £110 each they're not cheap!

The loggers are extremely small and light with a battery life of 2 years. Once they're set and started the clocks determine whereabouts the birds are geographically with an accuracy of 80 km by using the sunset and sunrise times to plot a position. The birds have to be recaptured next year to remove the data loggers and download the data. With 21 loggers deployed it was felt we had a good chance of recapturing a reasonable sample next year.

Data loggers were only fitted to adult birds as these have a better chance of survival on the return migrations as they're more experienced, having done it at least twice before!

As part of the approval birds had to be photographed to show the data loggers were fitted correctly and videoed on release to show that the birds weren't impeded in anyway.

It would be fantastic to get a good number of these birds back on their wintering grounds next winter and be able to find out where they go and where they stop. This information will help put measures in place to protect them on their migration routes as well as being protected here on their wintering grounds.

A surprise capture was a Skylark that seemed to think it was a Turnstone and was captured along with them.

10 Mar 2020

Barn Owl in the garden.

We've had a Barn Owl hanging around locally for awhile and I suspected that it was roosting in the Tawny Owl box that Alan H gave us when we moved in 3 years ago. Jackdaws nested in it last year and earlier this year I removed the old nest and found a couple of barn Owl feathers and some pellets.

A few weeks ago I found more pellets beneath the tree the box is in so set a camera trap kindly loaned by Jane. Checking the footage I found this  - a Barn Owl perched up and preening! Listen closely and you can here the Little Owl calling from a neighbours garden near the end of the video.