Monday, 8 February 2016

Woodcock O'Clock

As the gentle folk of the UK battened down their hatches and settled into their favourite slouching positions in last nights' storm, two intrepid ecologists braved the wind and rain in search of Muckle Snippecks, gobbling worms on the common grounds of Pen coed. Although Woodcocks (as we prefer to call them), are often described as 'one of the best examples of camouflage in the world of nature', all the stripes and brown feathers in the world are no match for a big bright torch and a massive landing net.  We have tallied only 9 this season but we have a string of metal rings to use before these marvellous creatures disappear northwards.

That is the look of joy

Friday, 22 January 2016

Small Victories

The Cardiff Ringing Group is composed of conservationists and scientists (which can sometimes, but not always, be the same thing). As such, the group strives to contribute to the understanding of the ecology our avian cousins- (especially those with funny names). It shames us to admit it, but most of our endeavours in this regard, result in total failure. However- with persistence and learning, we can succeed...

Monday, 11 January 2016

Slow Saturday for Swans

As is tradition for all new CRG trainee recruits, the new year began with testing the steel of our newest members: John and Claire. There is a craft to stalking and capturing a mute swan; the trick is to look unimpressed and uninterested in the birds and gaze out into the distance as if counting the new tufted ducks you plan to catch (it also helps to picture the bacon sandwich you'll soon be eating from the cafe).  Then, once in pouncing range, and after checking the bird doesn't already bear the markings of a BTO-endorsed previous encounter, pounce; pounce fast; pounce with precision and accuracy. All too often trainees will show hesitation, deviation and repetition - all hallmarks of failure- and guarantees of having to shell out for the bacon sarnies.

When I watch Richard pouncing onto an unsuspecting mute swan, I am often taken back in time 12,000 years to the early Holocene to observe the successes of a well fed and successful swan hunter- I suspect that I too bear a similar (albeit Neanderthal) resemblance. 

I am happy to report that the new crew show promise; (they were not afraid of the honkers and they had a go- good enough I suppose!) 6 more swans with blue rings (C077-082).

In related news- we have had a couple of recoveries of swans (Burnham on Sea -somewhere abroad I reckon) and roath park lake (again). Another coot has ended up in Manchester (Kane Brides must have been on tour).

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Keeping the CRG in the Lime Light


As role models and peers to the other ringing groups in Wales and indeed, the UK, its very important for the Cardiff ringers to occasionally feature on TV providing world class Friday night entertainment. On this occasion (aired on New Years Day) we were assisting Prof Ormerod relay the importance of River water quality to biodiversity to the ITV viewing public with the legendary Ray Mears. I suspect Ray has seen many bird extractions in his career, but we could sense his awe. Its tough maintaining high standards....

check it out in full here
Cardiff Ringers ringing with Ray


The dipper ringed was later recovered this winter (a year or so later) by half man, half ringing god Tony Cross, who quipped 'the dipper must have picked up a couple of survival tips from Ray!'


Monday, 23 November 2015

Back with a Bang!

Radio silence can be beautiful, but its' time has been and gone. The third age of flippant, mildly amusing posts about the activities of an unremarkable ringing group in South Wales has just begun.

We are mostly active at Cardiff Bay which is ticking over nicely- we are also monitoring Lavernock.
The first ringing session at Lavernock yielded many new recruits to the ringing scheme including Bullfinches, Goldcrests and a Firecrest. A Firecrest!
Happy to be invited

Saturday, 20 September 2014

New Site Going Well (Caerlan - Penrhiwfer)

Although this site is well known locally to the bird watchers in the area, it was identified the potential of the location from a ringing perspective, various studies are conducted over the year from NRS, BBS to general year listing.

Having reached the dizzy heights of being awarded a C permit (Conventional Trapping Techniques)  from the BTO, it was time all the visits to the location were split up to target specific areas were particular species were active.

A visit in early July produced a male / female Stonechat visiting a identified area frequently, spring trap set with mealworm BINGO


My First Officially Rung Bird For The Site
Various other visits to the site produced the odd Meadow Pipit 

A concentrated effort was then carried out at my back garden with using small spring trap 25cm x 25cm & potter traps various sizes received from John Mawer (by the way a very nice chap indeed).

The potter traps proved to be pretty productive with Woodpigeon, Starling, House Sparrow, Magpie, Dunnock & Chaffinch current species caught

After the family holiday it was time to get back to business, with a visit to Cearlan to target Meadow Pipits the first visit was conducted over the weekend of 13/14th September and what a few days to remember a total of 35 Meadow Pipits were processed. Further visits up to this morning has produced a total of 59 processed Meadow Pipits the majority this year birds, many of the birds showing the post juvenile moult stage. 

It is hoped a few more visits will be conducted over the next few weeks, also identified was a flock of approx 60 -70 linnets, good numbers of Skylark 20+

The site has some real potential from a ringing perspective particularly over the winter periods as Fieldfare, Redwing, & Blackbird are plentiful in various areas


A selection of spring traps used at the Cearlan Site
And finally a Welsh Meadow Pipit wearing its official BTO jewellery
Y536562


  

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Island Bonanza!


Last weekend we sent Facey and a few banner men as emissary to Flat Holm; if for nothing else other than to see how many empty net rounds he'd managed before being found in a heap in the Gull and Leek, surrounded by empty beer bottles and covered in crisps.
 
But Flat Holm is an unpredictable mistress and this time the alder bushes were hopping with birds. Nets were put up and believe it or not, birds were caught. Real birds too. Chiffchaffs, willow warblers and blackcaps graced the net on Friday before a cold beer (just the err one).

Trainee (soon to be C) Erin explaining to members of the Flat Holm Society
all about Willwas. For those familiar with the Welsh Political scene, yes that
Ray in the background.

Then came Saturday - grey skies, low cloud and an invisible mainland meant the migrants stayed on the island. Nets put up the previous evening were unfurled and then more put up. The first two net rounds contained more non-gulls than were caught on Flat Holm in all of 2013. Then came the House martins, clinging to the light house; 32 were tempted by a tape lure, as was a sedge warbler. By the afternoon the sun was shining and the cloud burnt through so things slowed down.  But when the G&L opened its doors, 119 birds had been ringed.

Extracting house martins. We apologise for the smiles and  scene of enjoyment
 
 Sunday saw much slower progress and fewer birds were caught - rock pipit and meadow pipit gracing the nets. Wheatear refused to play ball, repeatedly ignoring our offerings of mealworm. Eventually we packed up, slightly sun kissed, finishing on 180 birds of the weekend. Hells Yeah!


So what was bird of the trip? The house martins were pretty good. But, as no megas were caught, bird of the trip went too...

 
As rarity is a matter of context and this is a rare bird for Flat Holm; this
individual being only the fourth to end up in a net on the island. The last
one was caught in 1998. Still, with wryneck seemingly everywhere that
weekend it would have been nice if the Gods had graced us with one.


 
Tad-da! Our totals for the trip, presented old school in a notebook.




Thursday, 21 August 2014

As (hopefully) seen on TV


The question might have been asked thus “Can you help me out with catching dippers for a filming session for Ray Mears’ new series?”

What was heard was “Whotcha! Want to meet Ray Mears?!”

Vaf practising his on screen his pole
handling technique
 
And so that is how it transpired that Vaf and Facey found themselves, chanting “Ray! Ray! Ray! Ray! Ray!” on their way to meet Prof Steve O(merod)  and get some BTO bling on some dippehs in front of Ray Mears (while not pointing and not drivelling “You’re Ray Mears, you are!”).
Mr Mears is a genuinely, genuinely, nice guy – friendly, chatty, and down to earth. He took the time to talk to us both and even listened to what we had to say (more than just “You’re Ray Mears, you are!”). He clearly cares about the world around him and the fact our species is royally screwing it up.

Steve wanted the big riparian three; dipper, kingfisher and grey wag. Water birds are like water buses, after a long wait for nothing four come along at once; in quick succession we missed two kingfisher, a dipper and a grey wag.
But the Gods of Ringing did smile on their loyal disciples and we soon caught a kingfisher. No sooner as the bird was on dry land it was a case of “ere, Ray! Hold this!” and off our merry pair went to extract two dippers, quickly followed by a grey wag.

Facey, Ray and Vaf. Mr Mears is clearly pleased to be in the
presence of the (in)famous Cardiff Ringers.  
The camera was pointed at us a good few times, thankfully as we took ages on our hair and makeup. So you might, just might, glimpse our overly excited grins on Ray’s (yeah first name terms) new programme to be aired in Feb 2015. But if we end up on the cutting room floor, we’ll be pleased with the fact that the dippers we caught made it on screen with Steve Ormerod and Ray Mears.

 
If you have a film sequence involving of ringing... if no one else can help... and if you can find them... maybe you can hire... The Cardiff Ringers*

(Cue Facey’s car rolling over and Vaf throwing an eco-tone pole at some trainees)

 *If locked in a warehouse we’d probably fashion a larger potter trap.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Gull Ringing It Is Then

Having missed the annual gull ringing last year in Cardiff City Centre & Surrounding Area, I was eager to receive the date from Rich, this was received, annual leave request put into employer for July 1st , leave granted, "Happy Days"

The activity was run like a military operation with Peter Rock, being the OC, RV Southgate House 09:00hrs, where we (Wayne Morris & myself) were greeted by Peter, bringing up the rear was Rich Facey & Ian Vaughan (That sound rude) should I say arriving a few minutes later was Rich & Ian

To the roof we went, where 3 Lesser Black Back Juvenile Gulls were rung, at this location a few nests had failed.


Further visited to the roof of WH Smith produced 3 LBBGU & 3 HERGU contributing to science and wearing new jewellery and a fancy plastic accessory (Darvic)

Visits  to Vitality/Henrys - Sainsburys - Boots produced a further 8 Juveniles

By far the largest breeding area was the roof of Wilkinsons (17) & Sainsbury (2) roof just off Newport Road, with another 19 Juveniles being added

Eagle eye Morris had viewed Juveniles on the roof of carpet right, the smooth talking Peter Rock secured permission from the store to grant us authorisation to go on the roof 3 LBBGU were ringed, however a visit a week earlier could of secured us a few more.

In total 39 Juveniles were rung 27 LBBGU  & 12 HERGU

A thoroughly enjoyable day with great company, huge thanks to Peter, Rich, Ian & Wayne, and the beer was pretty good at the end of the ringing activities

Myself arranging birds for further processing

Darvic Being Added To This Herring Gull