Sunday, June 17, 2007
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