Friday, 25 July 2014

swallow success

Last night we made our first autumn visit to a local swallow roost and caught 98 birds, all of which were juveniles, including a few which were still growing their wing feathers and had just fledged. A good indication of quite a good breeding season for swallows although a few people have been reporting slightly lower numbers at their farms and on Skokholm only two successful breeding pairs which is half of the numbers in 2013.
Along with the swallows a small number of sedge warblers and a couple of reed warblers were caught in he single net so the marsh must be full of them at the moment.

Sunday, 6 July 2014


One of the three retraps last week had been ringed at south haven, skokholm in August 2013. It's interesting that this bird is still wandering around the local area and maybe is breeding or going to breed on one of the islands.
Skokholm will start to catch stormiest next week and do so through the rest of the autumn and last year caught birds which had previously been ringed elsewhere, several from Cornwall.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A few stormies

We managed to get out last night in perfect conditions for our first catch of storm petrels in 2014.  With two 40' nets set one above the other and two lots of loudspeakers within 15 minutes of setting up the first bird was caught and by the time we decided to finish at 0130hrs the grand total was 77 new birds and 3 retraps.
We spent a bit of time trying to match the birds with some ageing criteria published about 12 years ago but found it very difficult to be sure of what we were looking at - they are devilishly difficult so all ended up being called "not born this year".
We also recorded the state of the "brood patch" scoring every bird with 1 - fully feathered patch, to 4- totally clear patch but not vasculated.  We have no idea why immature stormies develop these patches when they are not breeding or even if females develop better ones than males but perhaps one day the data will be useful to some researcher!
To add just a little excitement we also caught a male natterers bat which was quite mad with us and chattered away in the hands of our qualified bat handler, it flew away strongly after a few minutes of being examined. Quite why a basically woodland species was flying around the coastline is a bit of a mystery.