It's been fit for ringing all week in terms of wind strength, but as I mentioned in my last but one Blog post, I decided not to bother as it has been too clear and too hot. Looking at other posts by fellow ringers, I feel happy that I made the right decision. However, I did always plan to get out this weekend, and I managed a ringing session at the Nature Park yesterday, and it was most certainly a case of 'ticking over'.
It was nice and cool when I arrived on site at 5:30 a.m., and two thousand Starlings were in the process of exiting their roost. I just put two nets (100 feet) up under clear skies, with the slightest of breeze from the east. As I said before, it was certainly just ticking over, and I ringed 14 birds as follows:
Whitethroat - 1
Robin - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Greenfinch - 8
Wren - 1
Normally, when reporting on what I have managed to ring, the above would also say recaptures in brackets, but rather alarmingly, I haven't had any recaptures (birds previously ringed on site or elsewhere) for some time. I say alarmingly, because it is the recaptures that provide you with the data on survival, both in adults and juveniles, and to a certain extent on movement. Ringing is basically a mark and recapture ecological survey, and it is the recaptures that provide a great deal of conservation data. Why no recaptures? I'm not sure. I'll have to look at the bigger picture later in the year. It could point to poor survival from previous years, but why, certainly something that warrants further investigation.
The birding was very quiet, certainly no grounded migrants, and the only visible migration, that wasn't actually visible, was a calling Tree Pipit bombing south up in the stratosphere. I have mentioned a few times before, that I feel very lucky that as a birder of a certain age, I can still hear species like Tree Pipits, as a lot of birders my no longer can! And that was all that was worth mentioning.
It's cooling off from tomorrow onwards, and the weather is going to stir things up a bit, so I'll try and get out on any morning that's fit.
I read an interesting short article in a recent volume of Scottish Birds, about a Tawny Owl thawing out a dead House Mouse! The article told of a guy who regularly operates trail-cameras in a mixed woodland near Forfar, and in the past, he has placed dead day-old chicks on stumps and branches in front of his camera to capture photographs and videos of Buzzards. Whilst downloading some of the images, he saw that a Tawny Owl had taken one of the chicks.
He found a dead House Mouse in one of the mouse-tarps in his home, and he took it to place in front of the camera. It subsequently rained, and then turned cold with an overnight frost. When he retrieved the camera and looked at the video footage, it showed a Tawny Owl swooping onto the mouse. The Tawny Owl attempted to peck the mouse loose from the branch, but it was frozen on. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the owl fluffed up, settled on the mouse, and appeared to brood it for 26 minutes! At the end of this period, it stood up, picked up the, now thawed, mouse in its bill, and immediately swallowed it. Amazing!