Tuesday 23 February 2016

Springs Around The Corner

Finally after going a month without any ringing, Steve, John and I managed to find a short weather window and opened the nets in my garden.  The feeders in the garden at their peak are emptied every day but weather has remained fairly mild this winter, so I've only had to top them up every other day.  The conditions were decent but finches were thin on the ground with a small flock of Chaffinch and a handful of Siskins.  The catch died off around 10, so we closed up soon after. 


Ringing Totals   21/02/2016                                     
                                      New       Retraps          
Blue Tit                          8               
Chaffinch                       5                3
Coal Tit                          1                3         
Great Tit                         6                2               
Goldcrest                       2               
Robin                                               1
Siskin                             1                
Total                             23               9      


Earlier this month I made a start with the redeployment of nest boxes following the closure of the University next box scheme of 314 boxes.  Over the course of two mornings, aided by seven volunteers and the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, we erected 75 nest boxes in a wood in the Glens of Antrim.  It is a nice woodland with Red Squirrels, Pine Martens, and up until recently, breeding Wood Warbler.  The majority of the boxes were places in the areas with the greatest concentrations of Oak and with a better developed understory.   

The main aim of the scheme is in the hopes of attracting Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers to breed in Northern Ireland once again.  They both breed just across the water in the forests of Dumfries and Galloway and a few pass along the Irish east coast each spring.  It is a bit of a long shot but certainly providing ideal nest sites is a start.  The boxes are arranged in clusters of five in relatively close proximity to ensure there are sufficient vacant boxes come late April when the target species may pass through.  Every fifth box in the cluster has been left open faced and placed in a more concealed location to potentially increase the range of species that can use the boxes i.e. Robin and Spotted Flycatchers. 
We will be back to check the boxes in the breeding season and will post updates on the progress.

We did a bit of a litter pick after and the result was quite shocking

A view from the upper glen

We will (should be anyway) be busy over the next couple of weeks prepping our sites before the fast approaching breeding season.  The main bit of work will be a chainsaw job to create the new 'East Ride' at Portstewart Strand following the removal of a large section of the scrub.
There are also still a number of bird boxes to go up, which will be used in three different locations, targeting Tree Sparrows and then a number of open faced boxes. 
The next update on Irish Ringing Data will be on Corvids, although I've not had much time for that of late. 


  1. Great work! Hopefully you'll be rewarded with some Redstarts and Pied Flys taking to the boxes. Have seen the suite of breeding species in Argyll and Dumfries & Galloway (often with Antrim visible in the distance) and pondered as to why they are so rare here.

  2. Yeah, hopefully the return will be as quick as the Breen Oakwood scheme set up in 1984, when they managed breeding Pied Fly the following year. The same year two pairs attempted in Wicklow with those boxes installed 2 years prior.

    It will be interesting to see if the colonisation and subsequent spread of the Great Spotted Woodpecker will have any impact upon the breeding woodland birds of Ireland.