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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Chew Valley Ringing Course

Last weekend (28-30 July 2006) I went to the Chew Valley Lake in Somerset to participate in a bird-ringing course organised and hosted by the Chew Valley Ringing Station (Chairman Robin Prytherch). As a qualified visiting 'trainer' I immediately felt welcome and was assimilated into the local training team. After a hearty lunch in the 'local', the Friday afternoon commenced with introductions on procedures and safety followed by unfurling some mist nets in reedbed/willow scrub habitat. We soon captured a variety of species including Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Blackcap. Birds were carried back to the ringing station in linen bags for processing (ringing, weighing, measuring and assessment of moult).

A busy moment at Chew Valley Ringing Station

As dusk fell nets were set in the reed bed in preparation for a swallow roost. Migrating swallows (and other species) will often use a reedbed for overnight roosting safe from predators. This presents an ideal opportunity to catch them for ringing. With a tape recorder of the swallow calls playing to focus the roost around the net, a good total of 104 swallows were caught, keeping us all up into the small hours while the were processed.

Saturday commenced with an early start where another part of the ringing habitat was utilised, resulting in a variety of species including Garden Warbler, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Treecreeper. This activity continued until after lunch when a band of rain curtailed fieldwork (birds must not be captured in wet nets). Instead we had a slide show and I gave a short tutorial on the processing of ringing data.

Mike processes a female chaffinch

When the rain stopped, ringing recommenced and it was in this session I caughed and ringed a species I had not handled before - a Cetti's Warbler. Unfortunatly rain set in during the evening so an attempt to catch swallows was aborted, but instead an enjoyable evening was spent discussing slides of birds in various stages of moult in conjunction with a few tins of beer.

Sunday dawned bright and breezy and nets were again set in the reed beds. The rain front had evidently encouraged migrating Reed Warblers to rest there overnight as over 50 were caught during the morning, a considerable influx.

After lunch and debriefing, members of the course dispersed having spent a most enjoyable and productive weekend. Thanks to all involved at the Chew Valley Ringing Station. A total of 553 birds of 24 species were ringed, including 104 Swallows, 91 Reed Warblers, 39 Sedge Warblers, 31 Greenfinch and 27 Blackcaps. Additional species of interest included House Martin, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Garden Warbler, Bullfinch, Cetti's Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. And additional 120 birds of various species that had been ringed on previous occasions were recaptured.


Blogger Davy said...

An excellent weekend. It must have nice to meet them all. I believe I'll be doing a swallow roost next weekend. That'll be a tick for me. I have handled swallow, 2 in the last 2 weeks. I've not ringed them though.

10:17 pm  
Blogger simon said...

Looks serious!

12:09 am  

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