Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Introducing The New Scottish Team Coot

This weekend saw the formation of Scottish Team Coot. After all of the planning and hard work it was finally time to colour mark some Scottish Coots.

On Friday I picked up Chris & Kane from the train station in Linlithgow and took them down to the my favourite Coot site: Linlithgow Loch. I have been counting the Coots at Linlithgow Loch over the past few months, watching the numbers gradually grow up to 350+ last week and it was great to finally be able to mark a sample of the population.

Scottish Darvics - coming to a Coot near you.

It wasn't long before I grabbed the team's first Bonnie Coot which received a lovely new Darvic along with the standard BTO metal ring. The day's total came to 20 new and 1 recap, not a bad start to the project.

CAA - the very first Scottish marked Coot

We noted a few metal ringed Black-Headed Gulls whilst there and so attempted to catch a few. We managed to catch this Swedish control.

Swedish control - photo stolen from Kane Brides

After Linlithgow and introducing the guys to some traditional Scottish cuisine (deep fried pizza) we ventured over to my 'local patch' of Stirling University and Airthrey Loch. The Coots on the loch decided that they didn't want any new Darvics so we decided to catch this beautiful male Goosander instead - my first Goosander!

What a stunner!

This stunning beauty has now overtaken my previous favourite (Water Rail) and has become my new favourite bird to have ringed, what a beauty and so lovely to hold. Massive gratitude goes to Kane for catching him and by hand no less!

My new favourite bird!

After meeting up with some more Dinsmores for a cuppa we were off the The Scottish Ringer's Conference up in Aviemore (one of my favourite places in Scotland). We had a superb couple of days at the conference and enjoyed many talks, personal favourites were talks by Ewan Weston, Raymond Duncan, Tony Fox  and Euan Ferguson.

During an afternoon break the three of us took a trip to Loch Garten to try and see some Crested Tits (of which myself and Kane have never seen before). We took a short walk to some woodland bird feeders and were lucky enough to observe many Crested Tits close up but as we arrived at the bird feeders someone else stole the show - the resident Coal Tits. The Coal Tits were incredibly tame and would land on our hands, heads and even phones - what an experience, sorry Cresties!

There's a Coal Tit on my head!

I really enjoyed myself at the conference, getting to swap stories, talk to many of the people I have been pestering with ringing emails recently and meeting lots of new people and networking. I especially enjoyed hearing about the gull grabbing antics in Aberdeen and getting an offer to ring at Bobby Smith's famous Sand Martin wall next season, can't wait! Well done to the Grampian Ringers for hosting the conference and entertaining us for the weekend., I especially loved the videos and would love to help out on some of the groups projects if they'll have me!

We had to leave the conference early on the Sunday as Kane was giving a talk at my uni. I really enjoyed the talk and Kane did a fantastic job of inspiring the students to get out and start looking for colour marks.

Fly By Night

On Monday we visited my other Coot sites and ringed 13 new Black-Headed Gulls including my very first hand caught one, which was shortly followed by a couple more. I really love catching and ringing Black-Headed Gulls, I don't know why there is just something special about them.

My first hand caught Black-Headed Gull

In Edinburgh Kane, once again, showed off his amazing hand catching skills by catching me this beautiful Tufted duck, another new species for me and such a bonnie wee duck to hold and admire at close quarters.

A Bonnie Tuftie - mega thanks to the hand catching master Mr Birdes for this one!

Throughout our catching trips Kane was teaching me how to take biometrics so that one day (hopefully soon) when I have my C permit I will be able to go out and add some Coot data to the project on my own. It was interesting to note that the Scottish Coots seem to be a bit heavier than the English ones, although as only 20 were caught it is too early to confirm. I'm also learning from the master about improving my hand catching techniques and manged to catch quite a lot Coots over the weekend. I think I'm starting to learn the art of Coot mind reading!

Reading this Coot's mind I could tell he was about to poo on me!

I had such an amazing weekend and cannot wait until the next time Scottish Team Coot comes together - hopefully with some more members on the next trip. I want to thank you all of the ringers and land owners who have given us their permissions to ring at their sites, to my sister Elaine for letting us invade her flat for the night and of course I want to say a huge thanks to the new Scottish Team Coot for a class weekend and some top banter as usual - you guys made my weekend : )

Scottish Team Coot

If you see any colour marked Coots in the UK then please email your sightings to kanebrides'@'gmail.com

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