Monday, 4 August 2014

Bird Ringing with BTO.

Bird Ringing Sunday

Bright and early one June Sunday morning I arrived at HESC to find that our guests from the local BTO ringing team had already been on site for several hours. All their mist nets were in place and a work station had been set up at the 5 bar gate just past the Woodland Hide. It was a still cool morning, not too bright - apparently perfect conditions for bird ringing.

Soon the birds started to arrive at the ringing station - along with the first of our members and visitors who we had invited to observe proceedings.

One of the first birds to be carefully removed from his bag was a handsome Great Spotted Woodpecker. He appeared to be quite feisty, a healthy sign. His crown was vivid red and contrasted beautifully with the glossy black head. It was a joy to be so close to such a wonderful bird. To everyone's surprise he proved to be the first of seven Great Spotted Woodpeckers caught that day, quite possibly all from the same family. The juveniles in contrast to the adults had a rather orangey red head.

The group of Friends and visitors began to grow and soon included a number of our younger wildlife enthusiasts. All were given the opportunity to get up close and personal with the birds. After careful instruction and a little encouragement several of the youngsters volunteered to hold and release some of the birds after they had been ringed.

The BTO team were keen to answer our questions and explain what they where doing and the reasons behind the ringing of wild birds and we learnt it can take up to 3 years to become a qualified bird ringer. 

All of the birds ringed were carefully recorded to note details such as species, sex, weight, breeding condition and age.  Records are kept over many years and contribute to scientific knowledge about our birds. They help define trends which can show the success or decline of different species around the country and help alert us to potential problems with certain species, which will hopefully allow remedial action to be taken before the decline becomes terminal.

The BTO team regarded the days as a great success. In total the day produced 39 birds of 9 species.

The most numerous species was great tit, with the totals boosted by good numbers of juvenile birds.Somewhat surprisingly, second place was tied between blue tit and great spotted woodpecker(!) with 7 of each caught.

Possibly the star bird of the day was a beautiful (if slightly scruffy looking) female marsh tit. The BTO team took extra care over the ID since the bird was moulting and the site does hold willow tit - but the white spot on the lower mandible, lack of any pale wing panel and small, neat cap and bib were strong identifying features.

Following the success of the day it is likely that the local BTO group may wish to include HESC as a site for a regular program of ringing, recording and studying our local bird population.

FoHESC would like to thank Kenny and his colleagues from the local BTO ringing group for such an informative and enjoyable day

Front of House Enhancement Sunday Crew

This time of year our Sunday morning work parties tend towards the more genteel projects, so as not to disturb our wildlife friends still engaged in bringing up baby. This month we decided the front garden pond was in desperate need of a facelift.

Great care was taken to ensure that non of the inhabitants got lost during the clear out of blanket weed. We hope you will agree it now looks considerably more attractive, whilst still providing a bijou residence for a variety of wildlife including some tiny young newts and an awesome great diving beetle.

Many thanks to our friends in the MK Green Gym who have done a brilliant job in recovering the pathways down to the far meadow. Considering the recent tropical weather and the state of the undergrowth, they must have feared encounters with wild jungle beasts and lost tribes - not to mention the dreaded HESC mozzies. 

Well done MKGG fantastic work as always.