Sunday, 15 September 2013

Was the wait worth it??

Crikey! It’s been a while. Appears as so I’ve had the whole summer off blogging so guess I should be all refreshed and raring to go? Possibly... though hope nobodies been checking daily for updates.... by the way, how are you Frank!

There’s probably too much to update so it’s probably sensible to start off with some recent stuff. I’ve done a little bit of birding which is more than I’ve done all summer to be honest, though the bit of birding I’ve done has been between checking mist nets down at the Swannery. Long standing readers will know that we’ve got a bit of an obsession for Yellow Wagtails down at the Swannery. This is a good thing as this single site last year produced nearly half of the UK total of Yellow Wagtails ringed. Impressive stuff.
Given that we have the privilege of handling so many wags we took the decision last year to start a colour ringing project with the species. Recoveries of Yellow Wagtails are pretty rare so we thought that a little colour ring should yield at least a bit more information about this rapidly declining species. We’ve been putting a small white darvic ring above the metal ring on the left leg. There is an inscription of two white letters which uniquely marks the bird but a sighting of just a white ring on the left leg will still give us some information, so please send in your sightings! My personal email is broken for some reason so any sightings please send to luke.phillips’at’, obviously insert @ instead of ‘at’. Did that to stop these bloody robot things sending me emails... We’ve had several sightings already so keep them coming. The more we know about this species the better!

Another aspect to colour ringing might reveal something that really interests me. Yellow Wagtail races. We’ve so far ringed 560 odd which is only a fraction of the birds actually roosting at the Swannery. Some nights there been up to a thousand roosting and seems to average several hundred. This is a complete guess but I wouldn’t be surprised if up to 10,000 have roosted there so far this autumn. Our re-trap rate in minimal which suggests birds move on very quickly with hardly any spending two consecutive nights in the reed bed. Given the size of the British population (estimated at about 15,000 territories by the BTO), they surely can’t all be British. We certainly catch quite a few Blue-headed types and even the odd Grey-headed type but unfortunately there is so much variation within the races you can never be sure what your looking at. I’d be very happy if next spring we get a photo sent of us of a colour ringed male Yellow Wagtail sitting on a hay bale somewhere in Sweden! This possible Grey-headed type was caught last night and I got a quick picture before he got on his way at sunrise this morning with about 50 companions.

Will get round to sticking a few other bits up soon and might even attempt to recap on a few bits from over the summer but don’t hold your breath... It’s been 5 months since the last post! 

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