Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Visit to second study colony - WWT Castle Espie

It's been a hectic couple of weeks - well it is the middle of the breeding (aka silly) season, isn't it?!

The weather has been fantastic, but the rain today has given me time to recover and finally get round to updating the blog.

There are plenty of posts to come up over the next while, including a couple of projects involving much bigger, feistier birds than Black-headed Gulls!

Back to the black-heads, however....

Last week, Eimear Rooney and I joined Kerry and Pete from WWT to colour-ring some of the chicks in their colony at Castle Espie.

The great thing about the colony at Castle Espie is that it is spread out across the site, so we can access sections of the colony without causing any disturbance to the other areas. The not-so-great thing about the colony is that the birds choose to nest amongst thistles and nettles!

As appears to be the way of things this season, the birds were all over the place, with large chicks on the verge of fledging, right back to pairs still on eggs or just hatching (apologies about the blurry quality of the second photo!).

The fantastic facilities available at the site meant we could ring the birds away from the colony, before returning them to the same section a short time later.

In the end we ringed 75 chicks, of which 60 were also fitted with a colour-ring. This is much better than last year when, due to not visiting until mid-July, we only managed to ring six birds (see here).

Many thanks to WWT for permission to ring and especially to Kerry, Pete and Eimear for their help.

The other brilliant thing about ringing at a site like Castle Espie is that afterwards, you can enjoy a coffee and admire the wildfowl collection!

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