Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pre-festival Blog

Later today, I am off to another music festival so thought I would get a blog out as there won’t be an opportunity until next week. Last night we went back down to the Swannery where Wagtails were the target. The birds were pretty determined to roost about 100yrds away from the ringing ride, which meant only a few were caught. Nevertheless, some are better than none! I mentioned before about colour ringed Pied Wagtails, there are three projects running in the UK focussing on identification of White Wagtail, particularly in autumn when young birds move through the UK. My first autumn of ringing was pretty much made up of Wagtails as that season we colour ringed about 700! Last year was a bit of a disaster as the autumn weather messed up our busiest few weeks but this year we have decided to start early to make sure we end up on a good season total. White aren’t coming through yet but its interesting to see birds in juvenile plumage before their post juvenile moult. We usually see them in October when birds are easier (although not easy) to assign to a race. The birds we were catching were almost certainly all Pieds though by looking at plumage you would struggle be sure. Here’s a photo of the ring sequences we are using. Every wagtail has a different combination but you get the idea.
Right leg. Two different (or could be some colour on some birds) colour rings.

Left Leg. Metal ring below a colour ring.

Whilst waiting for the wags to roost we stuck up a small net in the withies where a couple more Willow Warbler were caught and this little beauty. I haven’t seen many of these in the hand so was quite a pleasure. It is of course a Garden Warbler.

This morning we were back in the reed beds at the Swannery for the third morning in a row. Another 80 birds caught, mainly Sedge Warbler. Next week we are planning to blitz the place as we’ve just got about 500 rings courtesy of a grant. I suspect they won’t last long as we’ve ringed well over 200 birds in three days and the sedge season isn’t even in full swing!

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