Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Day of Goblins! - 22nd June 2011

I got a surprise phone call this morning from my trainers ( Jean Southall and Geoff Sheppard), they invited me to go out ringing Barn Owls around Loch Ryan. So I quickly got out of my flamingo pyjamas and into my ringing clothes - which had just been cleaned of Cormorant and Black-Headed gull deposits!

I had an amazing day catching up with my trainers and ringing Swallows and Barn Owls or as I call them Goblins! I ringed 6 Barn Owls today; 4 and 2.

The first Barn Owl of the day.

I love ringing Goblins and it still amazes me how light these birds are at only around 370g each and how calm and docile they can be. The runt in the first brood was quite small and was still at the ball of white fluff stage.

The runt of the first brood.
Putting the runt to scale.

The first brood were quite lively and two made a break for it but thanks to my earlier Black-Headed gull training I was able to round them up and grab 'em! Most of the first brood were near fledging stage and so could be sexed quite easily which I found hard to do on the occasion I went ringing last year as they were a lot smaller.

A Beautifully speckled female.

In between the owl ringing sites we went in search of some Swallows. We found many new nests and nests containing eggs, only 3 contained chicks. I ringed 12 Swallows; 3, 5 and 4. One brood were at the fledging stage but thanks to Jean we managed to ring them and get them back into the nest. Those Swallows could be classed as 1s or 1Js.

The first brood of Swallows.
The last wee brood.

I always love ringing swallows as you can't help but smile when you see their happy wee faces!

The wee brood.

I didn't know until today but you will rarely find Swallows nesting in the same barns as Barn Owls and that was proven today as where we had Barn Owls there were no Swallows and vice versa. Whilst trying to find Swallow nests I found plenty of empty House Sparrow and Pied Wagtail nests and had a horrible moment where I reached into a nest, felt a warm chick, got excited, lifted it out and found it to be an unringable Feral Pigeon.

I got some great experience of ringing today and of climbing up tall ladders, under tight beams whilst holding little Barn Owls - quite the challenge! I want to say a huge thank you to my amazing trainers Geoff and Jean and I look forward to seeing you again sometime soon.

The last owls of the day.

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