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A Grand Day Out!

Monday, March 10th 2014

The bird ringers visited another two sites yesterday.  It was a beautiful day and the first Chiffchaff was heard.  Bumble bees were flying and a Brimstone butterfly was seen.  Sparrowhawk and Buzzard flew overhead.  Pochard, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe were seen on the lake.  The resident cob Mute Swan was ensuring that his partner was safe from a young cygnet and made several threatening attacks towards it.  The cygnet had enough sense to move rather quickly out of the way!

Cob Mute Swan

After one foray the cob returned to the pen (female swan) and assured her all was well!

Cob and pen reunited

Back at the ringing, non fattening cake had been provided by Robin and Sophie.  Thank you, a real treat!  Nuthatch, Brambling, Reed Bunting, Robin and Yellowhammer (shown below) were processed. 

Yellowhammer

After lunch a Starling roost in a local reed bed was investigated.

Investigating the reed bed Starling roost

A net ride was made in the reeds.  Not an easy task.  Waders essential!

Marking out the net ride

When it was completed and the nets were up, it was easy to see what an excellent job had been achieved.  Well done!

Completed net ride

Just before dusk the ringers waited patiently for the Starlings to appear.  None did. And then a small flock flew over.  Then a few more joined in, then more.  They came from all directions in ones and twos or flocks of fifty or more, joining in the main flying group.  Ultimately there were an estimated 5000 birds.  They swirled, turned and twisted making fantastic patterns in the sky.  This photograph only shows a small number.  Can you count how many there are?

Starlings

After about twenty minutes their flight changed.  It was like waves on a beach.  Lower and lower they flew over the reed bed and then suddenly, it was like a jug of water being tipped out and very quickly they were down in the reed bed and in the nets!

The ringers worked very carefully to extract the birds in the dark.  The Starlings were then taken away to be ringed.  They can be sexed by the colour of the lower mandible, pink for girls and blue for boys, well what did you expect? 101 birds were processed and it was early morning before we finished!  The birds remained snuggled in their own bird bag overnight and all were released happily this morning. 

Bird bags dropped in the water are awaiting washing, whilst those used last night have been washed! Starlings are not the sweetest scented birds!

Comments about the day - A lot of fun!  A great day! A brilliant day! And so it was.  A huge thank you and well done to all involved to make it so special.  (We are going to do it again sometime - great!!)


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