Saturday, 24 August 2013

Birds of the Night

Last night we decided to spend a few hours in pursuit of Nightjars on "Sarn Helen" a former Roman road connecting Nidum (Neath) with Segontium (Caernarfon). These nocturnal or crepuscular birds with bristles around their mouths (to perhaps assist them in the capture of insects whilst in flight) are an endangered species and the conservation status has been given a Red Alert. The Nightjar season is from May to September spending the rest of the year in Africa so we really had left our visit very late in the season to try and catch these elusive birds

Anyway we had two 60ft nets set up and ready to go for about 8.30pm. The nets were about 150 metres apart and as it got dark it wasn't long before the trill of the male bird could be heard as he flew around our heads. Not long later it flew into the net. Just as the male ws being processed the female also flew into the net. Since in a square kilometre is probably only one mating pair we decided it was probably wise to pack up rather than run the risk of catching the same birds a second time.

The bird above is the female. The male bird has white tips to its outer tail feathers

Head shot of the male.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

CES10 WWT Llanelli

Cedwyn Aaron, Ben and I completed CES 10 at WWT Lanelli today. It felt very Autumnal first thing with temperatures around 11 degrees C at 05.30am. Last year CES 10 produced 10 birds and today we caught 15. We had Wren x 3, Blackcap x 5, Robin x 3, Chiffchaff x 2, Dunnock x 1 and a Blackbird. 12 of the birds were juveniles, which was encouraging but the total birds caught is still very worrying. One of the Blackcaps an adult male was part way through its complete summer moult in preparation for its migration albeit a lot do over winter in the UK. It was a good opportunity to examine and record the wing moult of the primaries, which were 5554210000, a total score of 22. Both wings were checked and they mirrored each other. The head and body were also in heavy moult and 8 tail feathers were missing.

Maybe not the highlight, but the most exciting moment of the day was a buzzard that had been calling for most of the morning and then landed a few metres from the ringing station. It flew off low in the direction of nets 1,2 and 3 and I have never seen Cedwyn move so fast in anticipation of it being caught in one of them, only to be disappointed.

Downloading the pictures this evening to produce this blog I was very surprised to see someone had been busy using my camera. As you can see the early start had got the better of me.