Sunday, June 17, 2007


HMS Avocet sets sail for Peacock's Island

Common Tern chick

Spent this evening at Broom gravel pits, helping Mark Thomas catch and ring Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls.

It was good fun... first, we had to get to the island where the nests were. With six of us to get across in a small plastic dinghy, and only two lifejackets, there was a lot of rowing, well, paddling, to be done. By Mark.

Of course, all the adult birds scarpered when they saw us arrive, so once on the island we had to act quickly. First, chick collection. We covered the whole island (it's not that big) but had to tread very carefully, because eggs and chicks were everywhere.

Chicks big enough for ringing were picked up and placed in big plastic buckets for safekeeping; tiddlers were popped into cotton bird-bags to keep them from getting chilled.

The gulls - 61 of 'em - were ringed first and then awaited their release in the dinghy. That made for a very smelly, messy boat ride back. Just as well it wasn't far.

The tern chicks - there were 18 of those - received two colour-rings, as well as the standard metal ring. If you see a Common Tern sporting a white ring above a sky-blue one, on the left leg, that's one of ours. Report it, please.

Mark's been doing this for the past three years and his colour-ringed terns have turned up subsequently at Grafham Water and Paxton Pits, just up the A1, but also at Minsmere in Suffolk and Spurn in East Yorkshire.

Mark threw away his clothes when he got home.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

1 comment:

  1. Over the last couple of years I've been helping a friend to ring birds (owls and raptors). It's been great fun and quite exciting as I've had to retrieve chicks from nests high in trees or on cliffs (here the climbing/caving experience has come in handy).

    My friend thanks me for my help but really it's just an incredible kick and (a cliche, I know) a privilege to be able to get close to these birds.

    You've obviously had a great time too.

    P.S. Was at the Lodge a couple of weeks ago for my "Experience". Kept my eyes open for a Fuller name badge but I'm afraid I dipped.