Friday, 30 December 2011

Habits and habitats

A bit of site maintenance in the rain at one of our woodland sites resulted in a new net ride and a load of sycamore cleared. The latter in the hope of creating some nice glades and regeneration of anything except, well sycamore.

On the way home, with hypothermia setting in and four loaves of bread in stock, we couldn't resist another attempt at gulls at Roath Park Lake. With no gulls about we turned our attention to the water fowl, finally breaking the RPL curse by catching and colour ringing our first coot there! Good work CJ. We've now used up a staggering... wait for it... 9 colour rings from the 100 we've been allocated. It is going to get cold soon isn't it...?

Three Canada Geese and a Greylag later we decided that dry clothes and a warm drink were in order so headed home.

A reused picture to add some colour. It is relevant; it was taken at RPL, shows a
Darvic ring, and is of a species we caught today. We also saw a Darvic wearing GREGO; FX6.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Gull : Bread Ratio

Yesterday we achieved a ratio of 1.2, that's six gulls caught for an expenditure of five loaves of Asda's 'Cheap n'Nasty' ® brand white sliced bread. Some scope for improvement remains, we feel.

Our tally was five Black-headed and one Lesser Black-backed.  Here's a sample:

Also present was this colour-ringed LBB, ringed as a second-year by the Severn Estuary Gull Group at Gloucester Landfill on 26-Nov-05:

Friday, 23 December 2011

Thinking of Summer

Christmas ringing so far has been rather unproductive* (Bah-bleedin'-humbug). So with wet and windy weather gripping much of the country, a bit of a look back to summer is needed to lighten the mood.
We've been looking at the swallows breeding at the Cardiff Riding School (red marker) since 2006, and this year proved to be the second most productive year since then. This year, 20 pairs made their homes in the stables, stalls and barn, with at least one other in the indoor school building (think massive metal shed; its a bugger to monitor, so we don't report on those). Each year we produce a poster about the swallows' season for the Riding School's staff and punters; it gives the headline news from this season and you'll find it at the end of this post for your perusal.

View Swallow Sites in a larger map
There were a further 3 and 2 pairs respectively at Blackweir Ambulance Station (blue marker) and at Bute Park Nurseries (green marker); giving us a total of 27 or so pairs; not a bad total for an inner city location. We didn't do much nest recording at these latter sites but they fledged around 25 youngsters – you can do the maths for the total number of fledglings produced in the parks as a whole.

These additional sites also mean we were able to register the project as a RAS, albeit RAS Lite compared to the number of pairs covered by some Swallow RAS project.

We think we have found all the swallow breeding sites within the parks but if any local birders are reading this and know of any other sites out there, then please let us know (either post a comment here or email us at

As always we'd like to extend a big thank you to the staff of the Riding School, the Ambulance Station and the Nursery for allowing us access to the sites and putting up with us throughout the summer.

*e.g. yesterday; three potter traps, 6 hours, no birds...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Friday, 16 December 2011

Frustrating Friday

It was a simple plan; a quiet Friday morning coot catch at Cossie was bound to result in good numbers of the species. By now Vaf and Facey should know that such a simple plans are doomed to fail.

It didn't help that Facey was ten minutes late meaning the opportunity to catch in the presence of "Bread Man" was lost. Bread man is a gent that arrives at the lakes and literally empties bin bag loads of bread in to the water. He arrived, he emptied, he left. The birds, full of bread, weren't prepared to come That close.

While we watched crestfallen as the coots kept their distance, we did manage to secure these:

Voila! Le Tufted Duck fem

Pleased as punch, but no Facey, its not a coot...

Vaf and Facey were of course disadvantaged by a distinct paucity of coot... 

Fingers crossed and warmer socks, we'll be catching more coot in the next few weeks as the weather gets colder...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Here Cooty Cooty Cooty

Its been a while since our last post but don't worry we haven't left the country (yet). The weather hasn't been conducive to ringing of late; a tad on the windy and/or wet side. With the weather improving we decided to head to Cosmeston to ring Coots on Saturday.

During our several Coot ringing outings, CJ has steadfastly declined the opportunity to ring one (when one has been available), preferring his first to be one he'd caught himself. On Saturday the first Coot both caught and ringed was by CJ, affording him much quiet pleasure. It was also Wayne's first Coot ringing experience.

As the weather is getting colder the Coots are becoming slightly bolder, but still all we could muster was five, caught in quick succession. Given the time of year there aren't as many Coot as we'd expect, and without safety in numbers they are still a little bit too wary for a big morning's catch. There is, on the whole, a bit of a dearth of waterfowl on the lakes compared to most years. Either that or the last two winters have spoilt us.

With the Coot on to us, we broke camp for another part of the lake to try for what some would call "proper birds". Sadly, despite a myriad traps, all we could achieve was a retrapped Dunnock. But we did get some Mallards - important G closing practise for the assembled trainees. 

Finishing on five new Coot, three new Mallard, and a retrap Tufted Duck, plus the Dunnock, and covered in 'fowl crap, we headed for breakfast.

Ti did an excellent job of releasing the morning's customers.
With the morning's session complete, and breakfast consumed, the group dispersed. On the drive home CJ and Facey decided that a bit more ringing was in order, so headed to the Stables - adding a retrapped Robin and 13 new Long-tailed Tits to the day's totals. This brings the Stables' total for the year to 211 new birds; a bit of a milestone as it's the first time we've breached the 200 mark here. It might not sound a lot but for a site where once the nest boxes are empty and the Swallows have departed, all that is caught is the odd Blackbird, Dunnock or Robin and we are quite pleased. You never know, we might make the dizzy, dizzy heights of 250 before the year is out. You have to have dreams people, you have to have dreams.