26 May 2015

19-year-old Kittiwake and a few Shags

RAS is the BTO's Retrapping Adults for Survival scheme, where regular monitoring of a breeding population of ringed or marked birds gives a better understanding of between-year survival rates. The group carries out RAS studies on House Sparrow, Jackdaw and Kittiwake and yesterday we headed out in wetsuits and a ladder on a kayak (yes, a ladder bungied onto a kayak) to check on some of our seabirds.

First stop was Trewavas Head where we we have a small colour-ringed population of Kittiwakes. We were able to read a couple of our own rings, including a bird that had moved from the now-struggling colony at Rinsey, now resident at Trewavas Head, and another French-ringed bird from Finisterre. We also colour-ringed eight more adult birds, including one already carrying a metal ring: ES19858 was originally ringed as a chick on Gugh, Isles of Scilly, in 1996, so is already a good age! This is the third Scillies bird we've caught in the area, with the others ringed in 1998 and 1999.

ES19858 looking good for 19 years old!
On the way back we were able to stop off at Rinsey to ring a couple of accessible broods of Shag chicks, also managing to catch a single adult bird. They're surprisingly small in the hand, but still pack a punch with that hooked bill!

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