Today saw the start of my new colour-ringing project for Grey Heron. With the invaluable help of tree climber Gary Collier, Jake, Sue and I made the first visit to the Heronry at Warnham LNR which is mainly in a 40ft high Cypress Pine plantation. Of the 20 nests identified, one had been predated (Buzzard, Crow, Magpie, Squirrel?), a few were still at egg stage, some had newly hatched chicks (below), but three nests were ringable.
The three nests that were ringed all held four young of which all bar two birds were ringed. The two that weren't ringed were just too far away for Gary to reach. A great start for the new program which hopes to pick up some insight into the dispersal and longevity of these amazing birds. The colour-ringing scheme involves a metal BTO ring on the leg above the ankle and an orange colour ring with a black three digit code on the left leg above the knee (below). As these birds spend a lot of time in the water having the ring above the knee will mean that they are far more visible. Any sightings of these birds can be sent to sam.bayley(AT)btinternet.com.
After an enjoyable morning of Heron ringing, to celebrate I did the best thing and put the nets up in the garden at home, catching nine new birds! As I was putting the nets up I noticed a bundle of feathers to one side and on closer inspection it turned out to be a Collared Dove (below) that had fallen prey to a Sparrowhawk (though had been disturbed before it could finish its meal). I was also upset to find that it was the bird that I had caught and ringed in the garden just 20 days ago!
Grey Heron - 10
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 2
Greenfinch - 4
Song Thrush - 1