6 May 2015

Reedbeds, Dippers and an interesting Barn Owl movement

With summer vaguely arriving in Cornwall, this week saw us dusting off the mist nets to start the 2015 CES (Constant Effort Site) season at Gunwalloe. This is now the fifth year we've run the scheme, adding to the BTO's national dataset monitoring the breeding performance of a range of species.

The so-called 'dry ride' at Gunwalloe
The first few visits of the season are always a bit quiet, as we are mostly targeting reedbed migrants here, yet to arrive in big numbers. Those that have arrived are busy setting up territory and not flying round the reedbed, so the catch of just 16 birds was expected. This was mostly Reed and Sedge Warblers though, including two of the former ringed in 2013. We also retrapped Reed Warbler Y101100, originally ringed as an adult at Gunwalloe in June 2011 and retrapped seven times since on site. This is even more impressive when you consider this bird has now crossed the Sahara desert at least 10 times!

We are now also just starting the main nestbox checks of the year, with the first chicks ringed this week in the form of our usual Dippers in Idless Woods. We probably missed one brood that fledged quite early, but the second box had two fat chicks (from four eggs) at the perfect size for ringing.

Two Dipper chicks tucked up in their not-so-cosy-looking nest

Last but far from least was another morning spent doing Barn Owl box checks, this time in the west of the county with National Trust ranger Shaun Boyns. Once again birds seemed to be doing pretty well down here, with two pairs already with chicks hatched! One interesting National Trust story was the male in the box at Trevean (an NT farm), which the nestbox camera had shown was ringed. We presumed it was a bird from one of our sites locally, but was in fact a bird that we'd ringed as a chick at Treveal (an NT farm) in 2014. At 8km, this isn't the longest movement we've seen, but it's great to see a bird breeding in its first year, and one we know very well indeed.

GR80993 in his new home at Trevean
GR80993 and two siblings when ringed at Treveal in 2014 (we're not sure who's who though!)
Next stop are Cormorant chicks on Mullion Island tomorrow and hopefully retrieving the remaining GPS data-loggers from our Herring Gulls in St Ives...

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