Thursday, 30 August 2012

Colourful Cardiff

As pillars of the scientific community, the Cardiff Ringers are always participating in studies beyond periodic population monitoring. Such a study, investigating the effects of climate change on wetland foodwebs, has kept the ringers busy- colour ringing Reed, Sedge and Cettis Warblers and collecting their 'fecal browns' for molecular analysis. Clever bunch eh.

One of the study participants (left below Pale Blue over Metal, right below Yellow over Black- Or 'Nigel 183') was recently captured on jpeg by a local bone collector and member of the Cardiff bird ringing fraternity named Pete. Thanks Pete.

Suffice to say, Nigel 183 isnt a fan of the Drifters

If you see any more of these colourful combinations- be sure to take note of the sequence and let us know!
Other sites include birds with set colours on their left leg- Cosmeston Lakes  with 'Lime' Green, Cadoxton with Orange and Kenfig with Pale Blue.

Ooh, Pete's been spotted!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Ringer's Bugbear

Early mornings, lack of sleep, mozzies, trainees and flat flies are among several of the hardships that ringers must endure. Flat flies just pip trainees to the post for the most irritating and disgusting; after all, the latter can carry things and sometimes they bring cake. A mere glimpse of one (talking flat-flies now) can send the most hardened ringer in to girly flaps of "Ew! Ew! Ew!".
Most of the species of flat-fly encountered by ringers belong to the family Hippoboscidae, which contains about 200 species world wide but only 13 have been recorded in the UK.  Flat-flies are blood feeders and can be restricted to a single host species (monoxenous), a number of closely related host species (stenoxenous) or pretty much anything with fur or feathers (polyxenous). They are all bloody impossible to squish.
Our recent catches of house martin have been accompanied by one representative of the Hippoboscidae; Crataerinia hirundinis. This critter, as its name suggests, is pretty found of hirundines. In the UK it’s nearly exclusively found on House Martins but will sometimes piggy back on the other two species, as well as Swifts and even House Sparrow when they take over House Martin nests.
C. hirundinus is a stay at home kind of ectoparasite being closely associated with the House Martin’s nest and doesn’t appear to have been recorded in Africa. Infestations can be as high as 40 or more but the most we’ve counted one individual was 6, one of which is displayed in all its “glory” for your delectation:

C. hirundinis; looks like something from Ridely Scott's imagination...

Those wings are completely useless.

Freaky feet; designed for grasping on feathers and stuff.

Bottoms up!
These and other interesting facts about flat-flies were obtained from:
Hutson (1984). Keds, Flat-flies and Bat-flies, Handbook for the Identification of British Insects, vol 10, part 4. Royal Entomological Society of London.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Baby Barn Owls!

Yesterday evening, CJ and Facey made a dash over the border into Blaenau Gwentshire to help Roo and Steve Carter induct a brace of baby Barn Owls into the ringing scheme. Not just any Barn Owls but the progeny of one of the highest breeding pairs in Wales. Barn Owls have been hit pretty hard by this year's "summer" but judging by the large stash of voles in the box this pair seems to be finding enough to feed what's left of their brood.

Roo drew the short straw and got to get the birds out the box

Yeah, they were a long way up. Steve Carter, nest finder
extraordinaire, holds the ladder while  Facey shouts constructive
comments such as "Pellets! Don't forget some pellets! Pellets!"

One, two,three, Ahhh!
Roo with two cute, flat-fly infested, slightly
smelly, bundles of very cute fluff.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Wales' Premier Ornithological Get Together: Marvels of Migration

Details of this year’s annual joint conference of WOS, BTO Cymru & RSPB Cymru haven't long been released. Its being held on Saturday 10 November, at Myddfai, Carmarthenshire and features talks by some big names in ornithology:

More details can be seen on the WOS Website

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Show time!

Yesterday, Facey made a quick dash across the border to into Gwentishshire to assist Dr V with a ringing demo at Magor Marsh for the Gwent Wildlife Trust (there almost as good as the WTSWW)

The nets remained worryingly empty on the run up to the start of the demo. But in the end the Gods of Ringing provided a good variety of species to show the assembled punters; Cetti's, Reed, and Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and Robin.
Dr V talks to the assembled muggles
 Magor Marsh is also home to some recently reintroduced watervoles. These weren't overly shy (for their species) and put on a good show. They are also incredibly noisy eaters; sound like someone eating celery.

The day didn't stop there and the evening saw Dr V and Facey trying their luck with House Martins; best described as a work in progress. Two swallows and four house martins later they retired four a couple of well earned pints and a much welcomed curry.

Almost as cute as a Swallow
One aspect of HOUMA's that people don't often appreciate
is how fluffy their feet and legs are. Anyone know why?

Another aspect is their parasites... Flat flies are possibly
among the ugliest creatures to crawl or fly or in fact breath.