Monday, 31 October 2011


Spot the odd-one out:

The weekend for the Cardiff Ringers

Saturday saw JOV at the Bay successfully kicking off one of the projects for his PhD by colour-ringing a Cetti’s Warbler. This particular project aims to look at the role of diet on body mass regulation in wintering insectivores, using CETWA as a model. Although the actual study doesn’t rely on “traditional” sightings of colour ringed birds, should you see any of these birds then do let us know at

Meanwhile Facey and Dr O were at “The Woods” dealing with a catch dominated by Great Tits; although two new Goldcrest and a new Coal Tit brightened things up. A The Re-trap Treecreeper also made an appearance. It’s been caught four times in two years, all at different net locations. Although several Treecreepers (minus rings) are regularly seen at the Woods, only one has been ringed at this site, which does beg the question; why only the one?

Sunday morning saw CJ, JOV and Facey heading to the Bay with the intention of adding more Cetti’s to JOV’s study. Success came in the form of two more birds.

Among the 44 bird catch were 10 Lesser Redpolls, providing a great opportunity for a bit of “compare and contrast” of age and sexing criteria on a species we don’t catch all that often in numbers. Bird of the day, however, went to a Water Rail – a superb bird in the hand or field, and whose piggy calls are regularly heard at the Bay at this time of year.

Clown to the left of me, joker to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you...
Sunday evening saw a second outing to have a bash at waders by CJ, Facey and Dr O (minus baked bean sausage rolls). Arriving rather early, there was a three hour wait before high tide during which time little happened. A Dunlin was caught (partnership first), it rained, and a steady stream of Redwing called overhead.

As the tide rose, four Redshank arrived. Three left. One was ringed. Approaching high tide, a flock of Redshank came down to the pool, of which seven were caught, while others bounced or flew over. While this catch was being extracted another party arrived, for a moment being silhouetted against the light spill from Cardiff. Although it was a brief sight, it was exhilarating; a definite Kodak moment! The birds were not prepared to land while three primates gathered their kin out of the nets, of course, and so departed.

Once these seven birds were safely at the ringing area, Facey was dispatched back to the nets in case any more had arrived. Arrived they had. In the two minutes it had taken to walk from the nets to the ringing site, approximately 15 more birds had landed in the nets; with more arriving! Facey is known for his ability to bellow, which he did, bringing immediate assistance. While these birds were being extracted, more were coming in.

The night ended on 29 Redshank and 1 Dunlin – although we could have stayed and caught more, a persistent drizzle, empty stomachs and thoughts of a takeaway had us heading back to the car.

Monday Morning proved successful in adding two Greylag Geese (also new to the partnership) to our waterfowl study.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Redshank at Night, Ringers Delight

Last night, with the faint but distinct odour of landfill in the air and up the nostrils, two of us headed out into the wilds of the Severn Estuary to ring waders. Conditions were perfect; a high tide, cloud, and no wind. And we were armed with an ample supply of coffee and snacks* for a night full of waders.

The night was deemed a success even before we’d finished putting the nets up. A little premature you might say? You may even be concerned that we have come up with an even more dubious definition of success? But fear not; unless you don’t class a Redshank landing in a net while it’s still being put up as success? In which case, yes our definition has become more dubious.

Success in wader form.

It didn’t stop at one Redshank though. Oh no. We even bagged two birds at once. It looked like it was going to be a mega evening. Yeah, crazy talk, but you should have been there.

However, it was not to be. Not knowing our site particularly well, we weren’t entirely aware how much a 13.2m tide would affect our endeavour. As we extracted our fourth, and ultimately final, Redshank of the evening we became increasingly aware of how large some of the pools were becoming. By the time Facey had finished processing the final redshank, CJ was taking down nets in what had been one smallish pool, but now appeared to encompass most of the foreshore.

It would be over egging the soggy pudding to paint a picture of CJ and Facey struggling to take down nets, waist deep in what passes as water in the Severn. Cut to a low angle view of something swimming toward one of the intrepid ringers. A fin disappears under the water before the aforementioned ringer is dragged under to cries of "Hold the net up you [expletive deleted]! They cost money!" Fortunately the water barely got half way up our wellies, and the only danger that either faced was Facey tripping over his own feet.

Having to pack up early was slightly frustrating but we had caught four birds! That’s four more than Facey expected and four more than previously ringed on the group’s rings!

*A quick note on wader catching snacks – ASDA’s baked bean sausage roll may sound appealing. It may look appealing. But that's as far as it goes. Even a normally unfussy Andrew McSkimming had nothing but derisive comments** to make about the left-over brought home for him. Yeah, they are That Bad.

** Judging by his pained tortured expression we believe they were derisive; it's difficult to tell what someone is saying with a mouth full of ASDA’s let-down sausage roll in his gob- but he didn’t look happy.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sad News

Here's an Osprey chick with CJ back in July 2006 (not very near to Cardiff, we hasten to add).

And here's a recovery report from the BTO for the same bird, 1397939 LBGW(CD):

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cango Control

We've found out that the Cango we picked up earlier in the week is from Llangorse Lake, being ringed in the 2007 roundup. For those not familiar with the geography of Wales; Llangorse is about 50km almost due north of Cardiff.

Apparently very few of the Llangorse Lake Cangos move South or South East, with only a couple having been seen in the Metropolis of  Cardiff.

Thanks to Jerry Lewis for the information.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

You Know It's Autumn...

...when one of these smart chaps comes to pay you a visit:

No coots

Despite copious amounts of bait being doled out for the lucky inhabitants of Roath Park Lake yesterday, we failed to induct any more coots into the colour ringing project.

Our lack of success was mainly down to a distinct lack of anything that wasn't goose or swan shaped taking interest in our offerings. There were double figures of coots loafing about on the lake's waters but not a single one could be bothered to come and investigate what their web-footed fellows were eating.

All was not lost; we saw some of the Llanwern Greglags and litterally picked up a control for the site in the form of a Canada Goose.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Investment Opportunity

A fine example from the Roath School, exquisitely wrought in Japanese polyester on 200 tpi Egyptian cotton, with bead-pin detail, 30 x 20 cm. Signed "A. Ringer" on the rear, and enigmatically titled "That's Right, Just Yank It Out Of The Brambles, After All It Isn't Yours, Is It?".

Rarely offered and much sought after. Estimate £75.25 (which by a remarkable coincidence is the price of a new 18m NRSF).

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Well, its a start.

The coots at Cosmeston must have worked out who we are, as we were only able to get close enough to one. Either that or they have lost the taste for corn - they normally flock to it but today seemed to prefer a loaf of hovis. A few more mute swans were also added to the database.

1 coot Darvic ringed; 99 more to go.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Coming to Coots Near You!

As it fits in nicely with one of our on going projects in South Wales, we couldn't resist the opportunity to become involved in a nation-wide project (set up and co-ordinated by Kane Brides) looking at the movements of coots across the UK.

As the project involves field sightings of coots, it was with great glee that we took delivery of 100 of these this morning!

As these will soon be adorning coots in South Wales we're starting our plea for sightings early. If you do see a davric (he means Darvic - Ed.) wearing coot, please let us know at

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cwm Taf Fechan Dipper Extravaganza!

This morning at Cwm Taf Fechan, a small band of dipper catchers in the form of the Wildlife Trust’s Rob Parry, two students, and our very own RJF in the driver’s seat, found themselves striking feathered gold with 3 new dippers. This brings the site’s total to 15 dippers – with no retraps…

In the interest of the environment we are recycling
this picture of a dipper from a previous post.
All three of today’s birds were adults caught within the known range of a formerly ringed pair; these birds must surely be passing through? Can anyone inform us of Dipper population dynamics and territorial relationships at this time of year? Are we likely to be getting more new dippers or will this rich seam run dry?

We’ve now done 17 dippers so far this year. OK that might not seem a lot, especially when compared to the efforts of Dipper Don Tony Cross but for us we are on a little thing we like to call a Cinclus Roll; up until 2010 the Partnership only had three dippers on its database.

Although we oh so nearly chalked up a kingfisher for the site, we did manage to bag another grey wagtail, bring the site total to 4 and the year total to 5!

However, we didn’t see an otter…

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Recovery News; Going for Gold

We recently found out about the fate of a Goldfinch, who for simplicity we’ll call V845674, which was ringed at Cardiff Bay.

Ringed as a first year on 14 August 2009, V845674 managed get in a few years of hopefully meaningful existence before being found dead 735 days later (19th August 2011) and 3km from the bay in Michaelston-le-Pit, Vale of Glamorgan.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

All shiny and new…

The Cardiff Ringers are known to allow themselves a treat every now and again (No, bacon sandwiches are a necessity). A shiny new ringing box however, is just an extravagant and self-indulgent expense.

It had better be worth the £4.99.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Capture - Recapture

According to my calculations after the second session at Forest Farm this Autumn, the Bluetit population at the site works out at about 1.5 million individuals. Maybe I need a little help with my sums?

All I can say is thank goodness for the woodpecker that relieved the morning slog a little. Incidentally, and in case there was ever any doubt, I can confirm that holding a Great-spot in the 'photographic grip' in one hand and trying to photograph it with a camera held in the other is not a sustainable option.

Exhibit one
Exhibit two, oh, bother!

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Weekend

While Dr O slept off the excess of the previous night's celebrations after handing in his PhD Thesis, Billy Whizz, Lady Morgan, Thon and Facey headed to the bay on Saturday for what would be a very quiet morning. It was slower than the 15 black slugs counted on the track. Combined. Slower than Facey's congnitive abilities without coffee.

We ended with the details of a mere 13 birds gracing the notebook. Only two proper migrants, chiffs of course, were in the mix. Lots of blue and great tits... We did catch three blabi at once (This was highlight...) which were likely to be birds moving through. Bird of the day was awarded to a Cetti's, although it would have gone to the male sparrowhawk that graced our net but decided that it would save collecting its unquiely numbered braclet for another day... perhaps he will bring his girlfriend with him next time? "Blackcap my dear and oh look, this bearded gentlemen has brought the ring I ordered for you..." A fly over house martin was unexpected.

Sunday saw CJ at Forest Farm where he had more success Amoung the 23 bird he caught a nice little treecreeper. Bird of the day definitely went to the sole Nuthatch of the session - CJ's first!

A spot of spring trapping around the county, particularly on Sully Island, resulted in one frustrated ringer.