Monday, 20 June 2011

How To Get Your Car Covered In Jam! - 20th June 2011

This morning I got a crash course in moth ID from Kane. The night before he set out his moth trap and we eagerly waited until this morning to check it. We had some real beauties today such as Elephant Hawkmoth and Orange Underwing. This was my first time moth trapping and I will definitely be doing it again as it was brilliant to get to see such superb moths up close.

Kane's moth trap
Elephant Hawkmoth

Swallow Prominent 

Poplar Hawkmoth

Buff Ermine
After releasing the moths we headed off for Killington in Cumbria where Kane, Chris and Zac have been ringing a Black-Headed gull colony. Today was my first experience of ringing both Black-Headed gulls and gull pulli.

Killington lake and the gull's island.
It was great to be in amongst a nesting gull colony and seeing the chicks at different stages from eggs and newly hatched chicks to spotty, fluffy balls running around your feet and almost fully grown fledglings that are extremely hard to catch!

Black-Headed Gull chick with it's new BTO ring.
It was a very interesting and fun experience catching the chicks as they dipped and dived under trees, through bushes and made a break for it across the lake. We were each given a large box to carry around the island to collect our chicks in once we had nabbed them and then we all gathered at the ringing point for the ringing and Darvicing.

A box of BHG chicks waiting to be ringed.
I ringed 28 chicks today and Darviced about 3. I had never Darviced a bird before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Me holding one of the chicks I Darviced.
After we finished ringing and left the island for the parent birds to return we packed up and made our way to Killington service station, where we planned on catching some adults. After a quick and much needed change of clothes we made our way to the cars to lay in wait for the unsuspecting gulls. I was told the birds were quite tame but today they seemed a little wary of our plans. Zac was the star gull catcher using the bait and grab technique from the cars.

Zac luring the birds in.

After a wee while Zac caught our first bird by hand using his bait of cereal. I was lucky enough to ring and Darvic it which again is a first for me as I hadn't ringed adult Black-Headed gulls before.

My first adult Black-Headed Gull.
The team have been ringing Black-Headed gulls as part of a study and up to the point when the first adult was caught they had ringed 599 birds. So not willing to accept an end total of 599 for the year Zac was determined to catch the 600th bird. By this point the gulls were playing hard ball and were proving very difficult to catch. After an hour or so of driving around the car park and baiting our hands with tempting treats the gulls were having none of it so we switched to the new technique of covering my car in gull food.

The baited roof.
After sticking mountains crisps, bread, cereal and jam to my car Zac grabbed the 600th bird of which he ringed and Darviced.

Zac's prize gull.

The last gull of the day doing his 'angry birds' look!

 After a quick nip to the photographer, he was quickly released and happily off on his way.
After biting everyone who came near it we released the last gull and so brought and end to what has been the best weekend of ringing to date for myself . Then Kane,Chris and Zac then went South and I went North back to bonnie Scotland and to see my poor dad who was feeling slightly neglected by this point.

Entering Bonnie Scotland.

It's great to be back in Scotland as I write this and really nice to see my dad after his big tumble! On my way home through Scotland I saw a male Sparrowhawk, a Roe buck and a Red Kite which was a nice welcome home. A special big thanks goes to Kane Brides for inviting me and to Chris and Zac for helping make my weekend a truly great one, see you again soon.

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