Sunday, 10 May 2015

New Arrivals

Last weekend, on my way back to Stirling, I decided to stop off at the Ayrshire/Galloway border to try and find where the local pair of Grey Wagtails were nesting this year. Luckily for me they hadn’t moved far from last year’s nest site….less than 3 metres away!


I was pleasantly surprised, upon checking the contents of the new nest, to find that the nest contained four very new, very fluffy chicks and one addled egg.


The new nest is in a much better position than last year’s, being much higher up, well camouflaged and out of reach of the hungry Otters that lurk along the river. There’s plenty of Otter spraint all along this section of the river and I’m sure they wouldn’t think twice about a protein rich snack!



The only downside to this soft, hairy cup of fluffy newborns? It was full to the brim with fleas! After a very brief check of the contents of the nest, I was left with no less than 27 extremely itchy flea bites on my shoulder. They clearly lured me in under a false pretence of cuteness!


Flea city^

Friday, 8 May 2015

Not In Any Hurry!

A couple of days ago I had a quick check of the garden nest boxes at home and was surprised to see that not a lot of progress had been made since the last check over a week ago.The birds seem to be in no particular hurry to complete their nests. I’ve had 4 nests being build for over 3 weeks now! They must be waiting for something, what I am not sure of as the weather is good and there are plenty of flies and grubs around. I can see from the BTO nesting forum that a lot of other nest recorders across the UK are seeing the same thing so at least my lot aren’t any lazier than the rest!


Good news is that one of the Blue tits has started to incubate. There’s something slightly cute and innocent looking about Blue Tits when they’re nesting…..and not trying to bite and scratch you as they do when being ringed!

It was a case of good timing for the nesting Starlings at home as the chicks were just the right size for ringing on the day I had to leave to go back to Stirling (exam time boo!). Happy to say that all 5 chicks have survived to this stage and are doing well, the adults seem to be bringing back plenty of leatherjackets for them.


My Da was happy to ring his first Starlings and seemed quite chuffed that they all decided to poo on me instead of him Annoyed.


It’s great to be able to help my Da out with his ring training whilst I’m at home, although I don’t think he’s keen on being my assistant!

Eggciting News!


The gulls seem to be picking up the pace now down at the main study site for The Galloway Common Gull Study. After checking a section of the site last week I was pleased to find 12 new nests and a couple of complete clutches. If these complete clutches are successful through to hatching then we can expect the first chicks at the end of the month….good thing the colour rings are on order!


Spot the freshly laid egg!


Ready for eggs.


Looks like my Tuesday evening spent collecting and washing my free nest markers aka rocks was well timed!




Number 15: my favourite nest – always in the same place every year. This pair of Common gulls choose to nest way out on a small headland away from the main colony. I think they do it just to watch me traipse across the bog and climb over the numerous fences and ditches. I swear I can hear them faintly laughing as they watch!

There only 1 week left to go now until the project page on Kickstarter closes. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for your support and backing of this project, the funding is vital. We’re very close to the minimum funding target now, which is great news! Due to Kickstarter rules, if the minimum amount is not reached then the project gets zero funding! So I ask if you could spare a few minutes to check out the funding page and share it with your friends. Thank you : )


P.S There are some great rewards available to backers of the project including this specially commissioned canvas art by Katie Fuller.

Blog photo

Sunday, 3 May 2015

It’s Starting..!

 It feels like I’ve been waiting for the birds to start getting down to it for ages now and finally, now that we are in to May, it seems that they have started to get things going. Today we had our first chicks in the form of 5 fluffy balls of the Starling variety in the Starling box at home.


Apart from the Starlings though (with a second pair nesting in our old Tawny owl box) the garden is still very quite with just a few boxes occupied, mostly with partially built nests,one with a single tit egg and another with a Great tit sitting on a full clutch. I'm hoping that things pick up soon and it looks promising as I watched Dunnocks chasing each other around and had three Chiffchaffs singing in the garden today. Our House Martins also look to be on eggs now – I always enjoy having our chittering summer visitors whizz around the garden.

This year the Great Tits decided to nest in the tiny Coal Tit box instead of their usual, much lager box, which now sits empty - strange birds!

I have seven Oystercatcher nests on the go at the minute, all with eggs laid in last week. Hoping to ring some cute chicks in the next few weeks (I have to be girly sometimes!). Most of my Oystercatcher nests are at Stirling University where they nest in good numbers around the main buildings and also on the flat roofs.


Probably the most exciting find for me so far was on Friday when I made a preliminary visit to my main Common Gull study site and was ever so excited to find the first eggs of the year!

We found three nests with one egg each and one fully built. It’ll soon get very busy for the gulls….and me!


The first eggs are particularly exciting for me as I have just started a new colour ring project on Scottish breeding Common Gull. I am currently trying to raise funds for the project on Kickstarter as ,with it being the first year of the project, the start up costs are significant. I’d really appreciate you taking the time to check out my Kickstarter page, share with friends and any donation is really appreciated as raising funds for the project is vital for its success.