Sunday, 19 June 2011

A Weekend of Firsts!

My weekend started off with a real treat on Thursday when I found my first Whitethroat nest at work and helped Tony Jenkins with some Swallow nest recording. We checked on 3 Swallow nests; one had newly laid eggs, one had newly hatched young and the other (which I ringed last week) had 5 smiley chicks chilling out in. The chicks that were ringed the previous week were doing well and should fledge within the next week as they were at the FS stage (Feathers Long).
Happy chicks!
  I found the Whitethroat's nest deep in a briar bush at the bottom of a muddy slope with a red ants nest on the top - great for the bird's safety, not so great for ringers! In the nest there were 6 blind, naked chicks which should be ready to ring next week.
My first Whitethroat's nest.
 The plan was for me to drive up to North Wales on Friday, stay overnight and then go ringing on Puffin Island on the Saturday but things went a little haywire and I ended up leaving at 2:30am on the Saturday morning, mainly due to my dad falling off a mountain.

 He fell off a mountain near Mallaig and broke both his shoulder and his elbow. After being flown off the mountain via helicopter and being filmed for The Channel 5 series Highland Emergencies he was treated at hospital on The Isle of Skye. His work mates on the Courisk ferry that runs between Skye and Mallaig were being very supportive singing 'I Believe I Can Fly' to him and renaming the now infamous mountain Tumble-Down Mountain! My dad is now back at home but needs regular trips to the hospital and needs to go back to hospital in Dumfries for an operation to fit Steel plates in his shoulder this week. So as the good daughter I am, I am on my way (slowly) up to Scotland to see him. By slowly I mean with plenty of bird ringing stops in between! Unfortunately due to his one-armedness he can't work, drive or ring for at least 7 weeks which meant he missed out on what would have been his first trip to Puffin Island on Saturday.

Saturday turned out to be a very successful day with plenty of ringing, biting and scratching! We ringed Shag, Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake and a new species for me, Cormorant.

Cormorant chick.
There were a lot of pulli to ring on this trip, so many that we needed to set up creches for the Guillemots and Razorbills in the form of two pop-up baskets. The Razorbills and Guillemots required a special auk ring which I now have the hang of and quite enjoy using. These special rings require the use of engineers pliers rather than the normal ringing pliers.

Guillemot chick.
 The highlights of the day were being watched by a Grey Seal, seeing lots of new gull chicks, meeting some new ringers and getting to help a PhD student fit data loggers to Kittiwakes.

A Kittiwake sporting a new data logger.
The totals for the day were; 299 Guillemot pulli and 14 adults, 10 Shag pulli, 5 adult Razorbill and 27 pulli, 6 Kittwakes and 250 Cormorant pulli, 50 of which were fitted with additional Darvic rings.
The Darvic team.
All in all a great day was had by all and special thanks goes to Rachel and Steve for the invite and for putting me up for the night.

The following day I had planned to drive up to Scotland to see my dad but received a text from Kane Brides, who I met on Puffin Island, inviting me to come to Atherton for a spot of ringing and how could I refuse! So today we have been out to look for nests and I saw my first ever Long-Eared Owl sitting on her nest and to an open cast mine to ring a colony of nesting Sand Martins and Lapwing ( a first for me).The highlights of the day was catching a Portuguese Sand Martin and seeing my first ever Hobby which soared over ours heads. A another great day was had apart from me losing my ringing pliers in the mine.
A Portuguese Sand Martin

My first Lapwing chick

Special thanks goes to Kane Brides ( for inviting me and Chris Bridge for catching the Lapwing.

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