Friday, 29 November 2013

One weekend / two conferences!

Last weekend I, along with many others, headed to Cork for the 6th Irish Ornithological Research Conference, hosted by the School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences at UCC.

On our journey down, we stopped off at Portmarnock in north Dublin to assist the Irish Brent Goose Research Group (IBGRG) with a catch.

Ireland hosts the vast majority of the world population of Light-bellied Brent Geese (c.30,000-40,000) and the work of the IBGRG has resulted in almost 4000 geese being caught and colour-ringed since 2001. They have recorded over 130,000 re-sightings, which makes my 500+ re-sightings seem slightly insignificant!!

I can't believe this blog is over a year old and I haven't mentioned the IBGRG before - sorry, guys!

This was my first experience of cannon-netting and unfortunately, a temperamental fuse resulted in only six of the 120 or so geese in the catching zone being caught. *Insert expletives here*

It was fascinating and impressive to watch the professional setup the guys had to process the birds, taking all sorts of biometrics and, of course, colour-ringing them.

You can keep up to date by following the IBGRG blog, here.

Photo by Niall Harmey
We also caught two Black-headed Gulls which Niall Tierney from Birdwatch Ireland duly ringed. Sadly, as the birds weren't caught in Northern Ireland, I couldn't fit them with colour-rings, but it was the first time Niall had ringed one, so hopefully he might think about starting his own project!

Photo by Niall Harmey
Photo by Niall Harmey
Measuring head & bill to determine sex
Photo by Niall Harmey

Saturday saw the conference start bright and early at 09.30 and was a superb series of talks by researchers and academics from across Ireland, highlighting the amount of fantastic work being conducted here. Speakers covered a wide range of topics, including seabirds, raptors, geese, monitoring and the human impact on birds.

The keynote speaker was Stephen Votier from University of Exeter who has a passion for seabirds and has extensively studied my favourite species, the Gannet. The work which he has been involved with has included capturing some absolutely amazing footage from a back-mounted camera, fitted to a Gannet, which you might've seen on the BBC earlier this month.

As well as the talks, there were also around 20 poster presentations, including one on my Black-headed Gull study in Northern Ireland.

The following morning, the Irish Ringers' Conference was held, and was well attended with over 50 people filling the room.

Talks included one by Niall from Birdwatch Ireland on the Dublin Bay Birds Project, which will see birds, primarily waders, fitted with colour-rings to monitor their movements within Dublin Bay and further afield to establish how the are influenced by disturbance. You can follow their blog here.

There was also a presentation on Mediterranean Gulls in Dublin by Sean Kingston, who has been monitoring the ever growing population. Sean is also catching birds and fitting them with colour-rings to establish movements, longevity, etc. similar to my Black-headed Gull study in Northern Ireland.

It was fantastic to meet so many enthusiastic people and we shouldn't wait another five years before holding another Irish Ringers' Conference!

A long, tiring but ultimately, brilliant, weekend.

Thanks to Niall for letting me use his photos, to the IBGRG for and John O'Halloran et al at UCC and Alan Lauder for organising two brilliant conferences.

No comments:

Post a Comment