13 May 2016

Cornwall ringing isn't for the faint-hearted!

The last couple of days seem to have been a bit full on, but full of adventure! Yesterday a small team joined the ringing legend that is Tony Cross to do the annual round of Chough sites in the county, colour-ringing chicks to continue the RSPB's long-term work on the recolonisation of Cornwall by these enigmatic birds. It's a dirty and very hard job, requiring an array of climbing kit, but a full-day saw us checking most of the sites, with mixed success. Whilst some nests were empty or predated, we did ring healthy broods of two, three and four, with a few more to check next week. This might not seem very many, but the breeding population is dominated by young, inexperienced birds at the moment, so things will improve in time...

Some sites are more accessible than others!
After a long abseil and then a secondary abseil down this ominous hole,
this nest was seemingly predated...
Somewhere near the bottom of this very large hole lies a very well-hidden nest site...
Ascending back to level ground after a 50m abseil down to the afore-mentioned nest,
where four chicks were ringed
Even by Chough standards this was a pretty tight squeeze!
Three chicks from an open mine shaft site getting their first view of the outside world!
The long day yesterday was followed by a more sedate one today. Accompanied by two surveying apprentices from Natural England we did the first of our checks on Barn Owl boxes. We only visited half a dozen sites, finding birds on eggs, including one clutch of five eggs.The afternoon was then spent kayaking out to one of our Kittiwake sites at Trewavas Head to read some colour-rings on returning birds. Whilst we only found four of our own birds and a single French-ringed bird, we take any opportunity for a kayak out on a sunny day!

Standard kit for West Cornwall Ringing Group being a wetsuit
and a dry-bag to put your scope in!

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