Saturday, 28 July 2012

In Memoriam

Alan wanted to let everyone know that a plaque has been installed on one of the benches at Cardiff Wetland Reserve, in memory of his father.
It is near to where he used to park and overlooks the bay. He spent many a happy morning down there and this seemed very fitting. 

Ringing in Spain - the credits

Our highly successful expedition to Andalucia was organised with great efficiency by Richard "feather mites and weight" Banham who lives in La Duquesa, in association with Grupo Ornitologico del Estrecho.

Richard posts regular reports on the BTO Ringer's Forum, where a quick search will soon turn up his details.

Thanks Richard!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Costa Wind Up

Sunday - Billy Wizz and young Ti returned to the land of their fathers.

How Green was my Greenfinch?
Otherwise Scorchio, but now with a very stiff wind from the east that rather limited our options. A return trip to the Naranjal for more oranges was perhaps most notable for the number of times a pair of juvenile Booted Eagles evaded a string of nets set along their favourite ditch. 39 birds processed.

Western Olivaceous (or Isabelline, if you prefer) Warbler
Western Bonelli's Warbler
Nightingale (or in BTO speak - "Nigel")
Monday - too windy for mist netting, so a bit of a lie-in and a visit to a castle instead. One House Martin butterfly-netted from the apartment balcony, just for a change.

Tuesday - very windy again, but we did get some nets up at the river valley site that we'd visited on the first two days, though the ones we'd planned to put over the water for assorted sandpipers and plovers were just too exposed. 54 birds processed.

Wednesday - still very windy, so a sheltered Avocado orchard this time. Scorchio, and a colossal catch of Chaffinches left us closing the nets after the second round. 116 birds processed, new species: Iberian Chiffchaff. That was a hard session!

Iberian Chiffy
Thursday - still very windy, so off to another well sheltered Finca, with a river and surrounded by mountains. 74 captures.

Friday - my last day, and miraculously the Levanter wind had gone in time for a visit to the agricultural plain of La Janda, close by the windiest place in Europe - Tarifa. This proved to be the hottest day yet at 44 degrees by the time we'd finished. 61 captures, new species: Short-toed Lark, Fan-tailed Warbler, Linnet and Calandra Lark.
The eponymous bit
Short-toed Lark
Corn Bunting
Calandra Lark

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

More Gulls

Another trip up on the roofs yesterday, in much more summer like weather, added another 16 birds to Peter Rock's Cardiff total and more gull crap on Facey's field shirt. Here's what the rings on this year's birds look like so keep your eyes open!

A proper Cardiff bird! Hmm SA, this ring made us thirsty!

Sunday, 15 July 2012


While CJ leads the Cardiff Ringers Gloating Expeditionary Force the Home Guard were...

Down the Bay Saturday where the weather was dampio. No new species but who wants those? Reed Warbler made up the bulk of the catch with sprinkling of Willow Warblers and Chiffs, and a side of Whitethroat. We brought the session to a close after the third round comprising a single same day retraps.

The Cardiff Ringers' answer to Pike finds a new friend

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Up The Rhondda

Thursday - Scorchio.  Make that up the Sierra de las Nieves, near Ronda. Mountain meadows with mixed oak, hawthorn and pine. 72 captures.

New species: Bonelli's Warbler, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Crossbill, Hawfinch, Jay, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Orphean Warbler, Redstart, Short-toed Treecreeper, Subalpine Warbler, and Woodlark.

Friday - Scorchio,  but misty as well. Home from home in a nice reed bed. 41 captures. New species: Reed Warbler!

Saturday - Mucho Scorchio, a somewhat warmer 42 degrees in an orange orchard. 126 captures, no new species, but we're not complaining. And the oranges were to die for.

Rock Bunting
Western Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis)
(Ooh! I've just discovered this was a birding tick as well as a ringing tick, all the Orphean Warblers I'd seen before were Eastern (Sylvia crassirostris)

Cirl Bunting

Crested Tit
Woodlark (1J)


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Turned Out Nice Again

CJ, Billy Whizz & Billy Jr. on the road in Andalucia.

Monday - Scorchio.

56 birds rung, 14 species, scrubby valley-bottom site.
Nightingale, Red-necked Nightjar, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Lark, Isabelline Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Cirl Bunting, Blackcap, Melodious Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Turtle Dove & House Sparrow.

Tuesday - Scorchio.

92 birds rung, 20 species, same site but different nets, some over the water.
New species - Little Ringed Plover, Serin, Wryneck, Kingfisher, Corn Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher, Chaffinch, Stonechat, Great Tit, Blue Tit.

Wednesday - Scorchio.

102 birds rung, 18 species, a different river valley, more reedy this time.
New species - Great Spotted Woodpecker (Moroccan ssp.), Rock Bunting, Grey Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Robin, Long-tailed Tit.

A small sample of pictures:

Red-necked Nightjar

Melodious Warbler
Woodchat Shrike

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Island of Gulls

Last week started with gulls on Monday and, via some swallows and no blackbirds, finished with gulls on Sunday. Indeed the day of rest marked our annual trip to Gull Island, sometimes referred to as Flat Holm; a place where gulls caw and ringers get covered in shit.

As always the expedition was ably led by Brian Bailey and Maurice Durham (with Facey bringing up the rear) which had one aim; to induct 100 of its nestling Lesser Black-backed Gulls into the Scheme followed by the annual cliff scrabble to round up a few Herring Gull chicks (11 this year). It also marked the handing over of the hallowed ringing book to us; yes we now are Flat Holm Ringers too! So watch this space for more island adventures.

Unlike last year we were just day trippers as the island has some water problems. An over night stay therefore wasn't possible and neither was a visit to the Gull and Leek. Shame! But we did get to and from the island in what can only be described as style...

Where as Master Roo is a one time island veteran of the nest count, Pliers Morris and Twinkle Toes Hallam were Flat Holm virgins, having never set foot on the Rock. Judging by the feedback they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They even want to go back for gulls next year.. takes all sorts don't it.

Facey's Angels; his lads did well.

Master Roo; Gull Whisperer
Yes, its a pink helmet. Stop giggling like that.

The Ultimate Gull Team their ringer in charge licked them in to shape. Not
literally as they were covered in gull crap. Apparently it would have also been inappropriate.

There did seem to be fewer gulls around this year and ringable birds were hard
to find. Several nests still had eggs, some were hatching and others contained
these cuties. Come on, they are cute.

Facey of Flat Holm optimistically looks out to sea. The running commentary:
Gull, gull, gull. Ooo! Cormorant! Gull, gull, gull, gull, wait... oh no gull.

Thanks to the Island Staff for having us along.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

City of Gulls

With an invitation from Dr V to join him and Peter Rock ringing gulls on the rooftops of Cardiff, all a ringer could do was book a Monday off work (hardship...), make sure his number 2 pliers were in good order and set the alarm for "lie in".

Peter has been studying urban gulls for a good while. All the chicks are colour ringed with this year's birds having black rings with three yellow digits; letter, plus sign, letter. If you see any colour ringed gulls then please let Peter know at . All sightings are valuable!
A big thanks to Peter for an excellent, if slightly damp, day.

The first two roofs we visited had gulls that were either two young (like the
two above) or too old; only suicidal mad men chase flighty gulls around on a
roof top!
Cardiff offers urban gulls a plethora of nesting sires. Plus chippy lane provides
pretty rich pickings (accept when Facey is there; try getting between him and a
Clark's pie).
How many people noticed us on the rooftops being mobbed by pissed off
parent gulls? OK quiet a few; we got a few waves and gawping looks.

Long walk and short drop... worth it for three lesser chicks though.

The roof tops of Cardiff; where chickens go to die...

Peter (left) and Dr V processing the last of the chicks on this roof.

Its no secret that urban gulls divide opinion and some may
call for a cull. But netting buildings just results in needless
suffering; this herring gull was one of two birds we found on this
roof alone. They would have died a long and lingering death

Our last roof was the most productive with twenty chicks ringed; all calmly
  waited while they were ringed.

The sight and noise we had for most of our "roof time"