Sunday, 14 June 2009

More surveys, more birds

Well there you go. Final wader survey of the season today - a good thing when you've got to get up at 3.30 to be on site at the appropriate time! The Lapwing seem to be doing well - three pairs instead of the traditional one, with a thoroughly irritated Oystercatcher at the other end of the site. The influx of Painted Lady butterflies finally crossed my bows as well, with around 40 seen this morning. Made my way home via the singing Little Bittern over in Somerset, which was indeed singing in the reeds, yet not visible. Oh well - it's only a Little Bittern after all's said & done. More interesting than that was a female Scarce Chaser dragonfly hawking around just in front of the invisible bittern; another British tick, no less!

In the long period since previous blog (when was that? I've forgotten!), quite a lot has happened: we've begun planning our wedding and associated party - all going smoothly so far - we've been to the Isle of Man to visit friends and ring some Cormorants & Shags and I've learned a good selection of new plants. Always useful for work, that. I've also finally, finally - after 26 years of waiting - seen Red Kite in Devon. That made me quite happy too!

We also managed the most extraordinary weekend's ringing of Storm Petrels. Our usual tally has ranged from between 30 and 200 birds in a weekend; this year - with Nik away - we managed to get just shy of 500 new birds, with around 20 birds already ringed elsewhere: the jam, if you like. These ranged from British rings (the bulk of the jam; mixed fruit, to stretch the metaphor) to a Jersey-ringed bird (damson), a couple of French rings (strawberry), a Spanish ring (raspberry) and two Portuguese (home-made raspberry)... Topped off with a fine Basking Shark under the cliffs, it was a weekend worth having!

Some pictures from the various items of interest follow:
Dormouse extractions: lesson one. First take it's house off the tree - that'll fox it! By the way, a good way to tell if there's a Dormouse in a box is to check and see if it's left it's handkerchief hanging out of the door. They're always far too big.

Lesson two. Naomi extracts a Dormouse.

The resultant Dormouse. Bum view, though.

Cormorant on nest, Isle of Man

Cormoranettes in nest

Male Pied Flycatcher. This is one of the birds we ringed last year, back again for another season on Dartmoor's fringe. For some reason, they - and Naomi - seem to be media darlings this year, at least locally. She's been on the radio (twice), local papers and TV... Quite extraordinary!

Chaffinch - nest of. These were too big to ring, even had we had the necessary.

Basking Shark. No, really.

Storm Petrel. Well, Wild Carrot with Storm Petrel lurking behind it would be more accurate...