Saturday 4 June 2016

Summer Season - Terns, Gulls and Nest Boxes

John hosted two trainees at the University River Site on Bank Holiday Monday.  The conditions started off overcast but the cloud soon burnt off leaving a hot sunny morning.  They had a decent session, catching the first fledged birds of the year in the form of two Robins.  Two Sedge Warblers were also a nice catch as they don't breed that often at the site and we usually only manage half a dozen each year in total.

Sedge Warbler

River Site 30/05/2016                                 

                                   New       Retraps          
Blackbird                    1                                                                                 
Bullfinch                     2                1               
Dunnock                     1                1              
Lesser Redpoll           1
Robin                          2                1                
Sedge Warbler           2     
Song Thrush                                 1
Willow Warbler          2                 1 
Total                          11                5             

Ken and a team of five (three from the National Parks and Wildlife Service) made the first follow up ringing trip to Inch Wildfowl Reserve in Donegal on Tuesday, following the initial visit back on the 10th of May to gauge the number of nests, eggs etc.
The team  had a successful day and ringed 180 Sandwich Tern chicks, which is only 9 birds shy of last years total with the second visit to come in a week or so.  There had been around 400 eggs counted on the first visit so, all being well, there should be many more fledged birds on the final visit.  They also managed to ring 43 larger Black-headed Gull chicks.  Andrew took the opportunity to count the Common Tern nests and found 57, the majority with 3 eggs.  If the fantastic weather and lower water levels continue and the local predators stay at bay, we could be set for one of the best years for the Common Terns.  The most productive year at Inch was back in 1999 with 86 chicks ringed.

For some videos of the trip check out the Inch Wildfowl Reserve on Facebook -

Over the long weekend I managed to get around the rest of the general nest boxes scattered around the estuary and in Castleroe Wood.  The boxes in the estuary haven't had a great uptake with just one pair of Blue Tits at each of three.  I did manage to get at least one pair of Tree Sparrows with eggs and a second partially complete nest.  It is a decent start for the target species and they will hopefully use the boxes further and increase. 
Castleroe Wood has improved on the dismal year in 2015 when only 27% of the boxes were occupied.  So far this year it looks liked c40% are occupied, which is still down on the norm of c75% in the wood.  I ringed 24 Great Tit chicks, 3 adult females plus two adult female Blue Tits on this visit.  The Blue Tits are well behind, mostly still at the egg stage but they should be ready for ringing this weekend.  I did find 4/5 Spotted Flycatcher territories around the wood, 3 with vacant open faced boxes but no interest in them as yet.     

Blue Tit

Ken also checked his boxes back on the 26th of May in the University campus and ringed 39 Blue and Great Tit chicks.  This scheme is part of a study on the preference of tree species for nesting, comparing c30 species, so it will be interesting to hear the initial results from year one! 

John has been keeping an eye on an accessible Long-eared owl nest in the University campus over the past few weeks but we have missed the opportunity and the chick has fledged already.  It is still nice to see the birds in such close proximity and that they continue to fledge young every year. 

Long-eared Owls by John Clarke

I have received news of one of the colour ringed Black-tailed Godwits and of a local movement of a Meadow Pipit, so I'll try and update on those next time!

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