Visit to the Stormies

Tuesday, August 30th 2016

Over the Bank Holiday weekend some of the Foxglove ringing team headed back to Cape Wrath to ring Storm Petrels, Stormies, as they are affectionately called.  These birds are not much bigger than a House Sparrow and spend most of their time at sea, only returning to land, in the dark, to breed in holes and burrows.  They feed on plankton, small fish and crustaceans without actually landing on the sea surface.

This one is sporting its new ring.

A ringed Storm Petrel

A ringed Storm Petrel

To reach the area for catching the birds is an interesting journey, sand dunes

Blue sky and sand dunes

and then grass, but this grass was not all it seemed and one of the landrovers got bogged down!

Bogged down

Adam to the rescue.

Adam to the rescue

Someone would have a nice job removing the mud on the return home.  (Think the rain they travelled through on the way home did the job!)

Un- bogged

The landrovers have to be loaded with all the kit needed to catch and process the birds during the hours of darkness, so whilst still light everything was checked..

Checking the kit

The 'ringing room' is the back of the landrovers and you can see everyone getting ready.

The ringing room

There was a little time to relax, before darkness fell and the Stormies arrived.  Eleanor found a comfortable seat.

Waiting for the birds

Initially the weather was good but it did not last and there were some heavy showers and the wind strength increased.  The weather forecast for the last night was so bad, heavy rain and strong winds all night, that the team left early.

This was the scene as they left.

A beautiful view

The team processed nearly 400 birds including 25 controls, one from Norway.  Details of these birds will come through from the BTO.

The long journey back was through heavy rain but after a sleep the ringers were back at work on the Crater where another 70 Mipits were ringed and this beautiful Whitethroat. 

Whitethroat

There is never a dull moment!  Winter bird ringing then the nest box season, followed by CES, with two visits to Cape Wrath.  Visits to other sites and a Sand Martin colony towards the end of the summer.  The last CES has to be carried out this week, 0530 start!  As the evenings draw in so the time in front of the computer increases, inputting the data.

All of this hard work and commitment is very important in helping to gather data on bird species.  The BTO is responsible for collating this data and advising land owners and government, who use this information to plan strategies to help protect our wildlife.

A huge thank you to the bird ringers at Foxglove and all the other volunteers who help and support them.


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