Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sunday 27th.June 2010

A new experience for me today , bird ringing . One of my Surrey Hedgelaying colleagues , Roger Taylor , a licenced bird ringer , has a site on Crossness Nature Reserve on the banks of the Thames , almost opposite Ford of Dagenham . We arranged for me to help out , before the end of the last hedgelaying season , and that came to fruition when the alarm went off at 0245 this morning . When I arrived on site at 0400 , Roger was waiting , and although he had put up some nets , there were more to do . Roger explained that the site was a 'constant effort' site , meaning that 12 visits during the breeding season were necessary , with the same nets in the same places and for the same length of time on each visit . By the time the last nets were erected , and we had got soaked through from the waist down by the dew on the over head high Fragmites Reeds through which we had to walk between nets , it was time to make the first round of visits . there were birds in all of the nets , 8 - total length 520 feet , on this visit , and I was amazed to see how unphased the birds , probably 90% juveniles , were to their predicament . Roger deftly removed the birds and placed them in bags , which we secured to carrabinas strung around our necks , one being used for each net visited , and once in the bags , little movement came from the birds . Having visited all nets , we returned to a table and two chairs by the parked cars , and started to process the first batch . Whilst Roger attached the rings , sexed , and weighed each bird , I recorded all the information that he called out . Finally the birds were released back into their world , looking none the worse for the experience . Roger joked how a released bird might meet a another and tell the story of how he was flying along , minding his business , when something stopped him . Then a big thing put him in darkness , before doing experiments on him , before letting him go . Sounded like a script for a sci-fi film .
We made four rounds of the nets , the first two being the most fruitful , the third and fourth less so as the sun got higher and the nets were more obvious to the birds , but even the fourth provided some excitement . I have heard from Roger since with a summary of the days results .
122 birds were trapped , 89 of them being first timers and 33 being re-traps , having already been ringed here or on other sites . The birds covered 18 species , the most numerous being Common Whitethroat (25) , This one still in situ in the nets .closely followed by Reed Warbler (20) and Great Tit (17) , Blackcap (10) , all brown headed juveniles apart from one male adult .
Smaller numbers of other common species , but a few notable finds were ,a juvenile Kestrel which provided the excitement of the last round . This was one of 3 newly fledged birds from a nest box in the middle of the site , and flew off to join the rest of the family group when released .
The noisiest trapping was this juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker . A juvenile Reed Bunting from only a couple of pairs on the site .A super cock Linnet .And finally one of a handful of Sedge Warblers .
I have to mention the ignominious weighing of the birds . As seen below , they are placed head down in a cup with a small hole in the bottom . This Reed Warbler , and all the others stayed perfectly still whilst doing their headstands , including the GSWoodpecker and the Kestrel , but they did have larger cups ! All flew off strongly when released from the cup .
Apart from the birds , a couple of Buff Tailed Bumble Bees managed to get entangled , which also required Roger's dexterity not to get stung . Being a reedbed , there were plenty of biters about , and repellant was the order of the day . The worst of these was this big Horse-fly-Tabanus bromius , several of which managed to get snagged up in the nets . Another job for Roger . By 1200 the temperature was about 29/30C , and it was time to take down the nets and pack away . At least the vegetation was bone dry by then , as was our previously sodden clothing .
Given the habitat very few Odonata were seen , with difficulty above those Reeds . Small Tortoiseshell , Red Admiral , Comma , lots of Large Skipper and Large and Small White were all recorded on the butterfly front .
All in all , a very enjoyable morning , and I thank Roger for giving me the experience and the chance to get up close to many species , usually seen at the other end of optics .
Shame I can't say the same about the afternoon , watching the football !


Warren Baker said...

I enjoy helping out my local ringer Greenie, it brings a new dimension to birding.

PS isn't that a Whitethroat in the net not a Reed Warbler ?

Greenie said...

Warren ,
Thanks for that .
A sure sign of sinility setting in .
That's two mistakes in two days .

Anonymous said...

A great day was had by the sight & sound of it, Greenie.

Wilma said...

Great description of a morning's ringing. Sounds like it was very rewarding.


ShySongbird said...

That must have been quite an experience, Greenie. As I said to Warren when he did his post on the subject, it does amaze me that the birds don't die of fright although some are clearly becoming old hands at it now, I suspect another bird conversation is from the 33 re-traps who must have said 'we must stop meeting like this!' :)

Great photos and an interesting read as always and although noisy, I notice the GSW didn't manage to exact revenge by pecking the ringer as one did during Warren's ringing day!