Monday, 7 September 2020

Data Memories - Part 2

It's a good job that I am taking a retrospective look back at the totals of individual species that I, and others in Fylde Ringing Group (FRG), have ringed over the years, as I haven't got much to report of late. Showery and blustery weather is mainly to blame, and also the state of the tides. If there had been a series of early morning high tides over this past week, I would have bene out sea-watching, but they have been around midnight/early afternoon or after midnight! They are big tides too, so the tide goes out a long way, and when you are watching on the border of Liverpool and Morecambe Bay, it is more like sand-watching! It is possible to sea-watch at low tide further down the coast, but it means standing without any shelter and getting sand blasted! So, I'll jump into my time machine instead, and write part 2 of my data memories.

We have ringed very few wildfowl over the years, and the numbers that we have ringed (4 Teal, 37 Mallards & 3 Shovelers) have been mainly caught when we have been ringing Snipe. However, two Tufted Ducks do appear on our totals, and these were courtesy of a project we were involved in with Kane Brides of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), and that was colour ringing Coot, or 'black gold' as Kane likes to refer to them as! I say we, but mainly it was 'young' Craig from our group that took the lead.

 Tufted Duck

Most of the 119 Coot that we ringed, were ringed from 2010-12. On one occasion Ian and I joined Craig and Kane, at the same park incidentally where we ringed the Grey Herons, to assist in catching and ringing Coot. Now, I say 'assist' as that was the intention, but both Ian and I were useless at catching Coot, and I put that down to us both being more elder statesmen than the young whipper-snappers with lightning reactions, of Craig and Kane. The Coot are caught by hand, and you have to be quick to pluck them from the water.

 Ian in position to catch, or perhaps not catch, Coots

On this particular day in January 2010, Kane managed to catch a Tufted Duck by tempting it with some grain, and managing to catch it under-water! That was the second and last Tufted Duck ringed by FRG, and I don't think we'll be adding any more to the total of two ringed any time soon!

Over the years we have ringed a few raptors, mainly pulli from boxes and nests for Kestrel, and from mist nets (with the odd brood of pulli) for Sparrowhawks. Our totals number, 167 Sparrowhawks, 94 Kestrels and two Merlins.


Most of the Kestrels have come from boxes that we have up at various sites from farm buildings, to woodland, to the science block of a public school, but one brood of Kestrels that we ringed nested in an old Carrion Crow's nest. My long-time birding mate Ian was/is a great tree climber, and he found a brood of Kestrels in a woodland that he regularly birded, that formed part of his daily birding circuit. The nest looked a long way up to me, but Ian confidently said that he could climb up to it, no bother. And he did! And that is the only brood of Kestrels that we have ringed that wasn't in a box.

 Ian climbing said tree!

These raptor totals evoke other fond memories, and one of them being about a dear friend of mine, David, who passed away earlier this year. David came to ringing later in life and he trained with us around 1990 when he had taken early retirement from a life-long career in education. One of the sites that we ringed at during the winter months was a site called Singleton Hall, and I can remember at the first Christmas David was with us, he brought us a bottle of The Singleton single malt whisky as a thank you. He was always a generous and thoughtful man.

It is in connection with raptors that I mention David, and specifically Hen Harriers and Merlins. I wasn't involved in the ringing of the two Merlins that are on our totals, but it did evoke memories of David. Once David became a qualified ringer, he became involved with and lead to projects in Bowland in Lancashire. These were a colour ringing project on Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls at a breeding colony, and ringing Hen Harriers and Merlins in conjunction with the RSPB and Natural England (NE).

 Hen Harriers

David was always inviting me to join him ringing Merlins and Hen Harriers, but I always seemed to have other commitments. Then one day, everything fell into place and I joined him in the fells to ring a brood of Merlins and Hen Harriers. We also fitted wing tags to the Hen Harriers, something I had never done before, or since. What a privilege! So, thank you David.


That brings part two to a close, and part three will follow later in the week.

A few nights ago, I ran my moth trap for the first time in a while and I only caught sixteen moths of three species; 11 Large Yellow Underwings, two Light Brown Apple Moths and two Silver Ys.

 Silver Y

I'm hoping that I can get out birding/ringing later in the week, and if I do, I'll keep you posted.

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