Monday, 28 February 2011

High Hopes

Taking part in some medical experiments* recently meant that enough pennies had been earned to buy supplies to make a high net in the woods last Friday.

To get a weighted nylon leader line over a 7m high branch in a persistent shower takes a certain kind of patience and persistence. Failing that a stubborn and stupid streak that runs to the core will do.

After an hour of throwing said line in the vague direction of said branch the desired result was achieved and so began forty five minutes of attempting to raise a pulley and ropes, lowering them to untangle (and repeat several times) securing them top and bottom and getting the ropes to move freely though both top and bottom pulley. Then it was time to start all over again with the other branch for the other side of the net… Luckily, with lessons learnt (just) from the first, this only took 45 minutes in total.

Although a nice 40ft net was secured to these winching ropes, hanging fit to catch birds, some “tweaks” are needed but these will come soon enough.

A retrap robin and blackbird did grace a “normal” net and a field vole was spotted.

*there are assurances that the twitching, blurring vision and green urine will eventually subside.  

Friday, 25 February 2011

Birthday Blockhead

Phase 1

We thought it would be so simple.. Surely all we had to do to catch gulls was saunter along to the seafront in Penarth and throw a few sausage rolls about and grab those foolish enough to come close. Gulls must like sauage rolls...
We were right, gulls do like sausage rolls, but it turns out they're not so fond of people. If only we had some sort of net or trap....or some chips....gulls love chips...

Phase 2

..and so, armed with a bag of chips and a rather large spring trap we set off to catch all the gulls on the esplanade. Our only concern was that we didnt have enough rings...

Well...its a start!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Yet More Tree Sparrow on Gower!

Another sighting of tree sparrow on Gower has been made! This time from Southgate, 10km to the east of Newton Farm. Hopefully it will be a case of where there is one, there is many.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Tree Sparrows on Gower

The Cardiff Bird Ringers have been involved with the Gower Tree Sparrow Project (GTSP) for a number of years now. Although our involvement of late hasn’t involved much ringing; we’ve only ever managed to ring three tree sparrows on Gower!

Much of the GTSP’s work centres around Newton Farm, the only known breeding site of the species on the peninsula. Three pairs were discovered breeding at the abandoned farm in 2006. Despite providing dozens of nest boxes, the population stubbornly refused to increase in numbers and in 2010 everyone involved in the GTSP was dismayed when the birds disappeared from Newton without a trace.

All hope looked lost for the tree sparrow on Gower, but fellow GTSP volunteer Barrie Swinnerton found one feeding in his garden! Only 3km as the tree sparrow flies from Newton Farm. The solitary tree sparrow was feeding with a flock of house sparrow.
Tree sparrow and chums (photo by Barrie Swinnerton)

Hopefully more tree sparrow will be seen on Gower over the coming months, and hopefully they will return to breed at Newton Farm in greater numbers this year!

100 Swans

Last week saw the 100th ringed Mute Swan at Cosmeston Lakes and the end of the ‘Swan Season’ until next Winter. Once again we turn our attentions back to the proper birds that use their wings to take flight- rather than agressive displays against dogs and toddlers!  Although to be fair to the bread-eaters, over the last year we have recorded distances up to 32 Km from the lakes with sightings at the Knapp, Roath Park Lake, Cardiff Bay, Talygarn and Merthyr Mawr. Also the latest control data from the BTO revealed one of the Swans made a 95km journey from Abbotsbury in Dorset where it was ringed as a year 8 female in 2008 by WWT. Not bad for a Swan...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Grey House Woods

A session at Grey House Woods in Cardiff on Friday resulted in little. Grey was the best word to describe the site and despite there being a lot of activity, the nets caught practically nothing; with only a retrap Blackbird and Blue Tit gracing them in the first hour. Things looked set to be taking a turn for the better when an hour later a Treecreeper was caught. It too turned out to be a retrap, the only Treecreeper we have only caught in the woods. The nets were taken down shortly afterwards.

Despite not being the best day we’ve had at the site, it was reassuring to see signs of spring. Bluebells and wild garlic are growing in profusion, as was lords and ladies. Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, various tits, Goldcrest and Dunnock were all calling and announcing their territories for the coming season. Shame they couldn’t announce it in the nets.