Monday 25 August 2014

More ringing

Sunrise on the marsh

The Teifi ringing group invited me along to another ringing session yesterday morning. There wasn't much of a sunrise, but it did light up the clouds briefly. The nets I was ringing from were all in the reed bed, whereas the CES ones last time are mostly in scrub. This meant plenty of Sedge and Reed warblers, with a few blue tits later on. It's pretty incredible to think that these small birds will soon fly all the way to Africa for the winter.

Reed warbler growth bar

One interesting thing to see in the plumage of these birds is growth bars. If there is an change in food supply while the feathers are growing it can leave a mark. In a juvenile which grows its tail all at once it shows up all the way across.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Ringing at the Teifi Marsh

Kingfisher selfie

It's been quite a few years since I used to help with the CES (constant effort site) ringing at the Teifi Marsh. Yesterday I went back again for the morning to help out and get some extra experience.

It was lovely to meet Wendy, Richard and Dawn, who's ringing antics I had seen on their blog in the past.

Opening the nets at dawn, after heavy overnight showers we managed to catch a good number and variety of birds. Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Bullfinch, Blue tit, Blackbird, Song thrush, Robin, Treecreeper and Kingfisher!

It was quite exciting to catch a Kingfisher, but then later on to catch another 2 was pretty amazing. The second and third had gone into the same net, and it was interesting to compare them side by side in the hand. Both were juveniles, with signs of having recently moulted, and by the colour difference you could tell that one was male (blue) and the other female (greener).

Another nice catch was a Treecreeper. Such a beautiful little bird, and amazing stiff tail feathers to support it while climbing.

Thank you Teifi ringing group for a lovely morning.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Holes in the ground

Entering a cave with Holly and Be
Seal pup

It seems that a lot of the wildlife on Skomer likes to live below ground. Puffin, Manx shearwater, storm petrel, even seals.

At this time of year the Atlantic Grey Seals come ashore to pup. They like secluded beaches, especially if that means hidden in the back of a cave. On Skomer the wardens monitor the number of adults and pups, so into the caves you have to go.

Nice view from the cave
Shearwater chick down a burrow

Having finished checking the caves for seal pups it was off to check smaller holes for fluffy rather than furry occupants.

Manx shearwater chick

Shearwater chicks are studied on Skomer and part of this involves ringing or banding the chicks so they can be identified individually. The small metal ring that goes on the leg doesn't hurt them and is super lightweight and has a unique code printed on it. This can give all sorts of information when birds are seen or caught again in the future and is a priceless scientific tool. The photo above is the youngest chick in the study plot, the older birds are loosing their grey fluff and growing their proper black feathers.

Interestingly a lot of chicks are now heavier than their parents. These reserves will be used for growing their feathers and exercising their wings, slimming down to flying weight when they fledge and leave Skomer.