Wednesday, 4 May 2011

4th May 2011 - Just a Few Nests

This last week has seen no new netting sessions, partly due to the high wind conditions, but also due to me spending the long weekend staying at Dungeness Bird Observatory!  But, I did manage to do a couple of Blackbird nests this week, one on Duke's Warren (Leith Hill) and another at home, with three (below) and four chicks respectively.
Whilst ringing the nest at Duke's Warren I heard rustling in nearby fallen leaves and on inspection found a Grass Snake had just caught a Frog and was dragging it into the undergrowth whilst trying to swallow it alive!  This was the first time that I had seen a snake kill and luckily had my camera with me to video some of it, but didn't want to disturb it for fear that it would abandon its meal:
video
I also did another visit to the Heronry at Warnham LNR which proved rather disappointing as only a single Grey Heron chick was ringable and no new nests were found!  This has meant a huge reduction in the population here this year from 26+ nests last year to just ten this.  Don't know any real reason for this, but a couple of possibilities could be increased pressure from the ever more present Buzzards or that there was a high mortality over this harsh winter.

My weekend at Dungeness was planned to have an amount of ringing, birding and time out with friends, this didn't quite pan out.  Although the latter was achieved, ringing was impossible as the wind was so strong, but the wind did make for a fantastic display of spring passage offshore with over 120 Pomarine Skuas, 14,000 Bar-tailed Godwits and lots of Black Terns over the weekend.  Whilst rarity interest came in the form of a Bee-eater which I missed by about five seconds, a Purple Heron which showed well and a Red-rumped Swallow which was found just an hour after I left!!  One of the best sightings though was a young female Badger that was a regular visitor to the back door of the Observatory on most evenings, completely unphased by the over excited people staying:
video
Birds ringed:
Blackbird - 7 nestlings
Grey Heron - 1 nestling

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