Happy New Year and welcome to the first Dublin Bay Birds Project (DBBP) blog of 2014. I’d like to introduce myself; I am Ricky Whelan the new DBBP Assistant, I hail from Laois but have spent the last number of years working on bird conservation projects and reserves in the UK. You will see my name from time to time on the blog and may come across me as I carry out fieldwork. Regardless of what the lack of blogs may suggest we have been very busy with the project over the past number of weeks. In addition to completing a suite of core counts and all day watches we are now busy preparing for targeted ringing, catch and mark attempts later this month.
With the aid of a “Catch Team” from Scotland we want to catch and mark a number of bird species that frequent Dublin Bay. We also intend to fit a number of suitable birds with radio tags in order to allow us to radio track them in the coming months. This will allow us to identify key sites being used nocturnally by these birds for example.
We have a huge amount of experience within the team and a vast amount of information gathered on the habits of the Dublin Bay birds, saying all this, a considerable amount of prep work needs to be carried out before any catch attempts. I say “attempts” as catches don’t always go to plan, there is a vast amount of variables that may upset plans. The first thing to consider is that these are wild birds and we can’t predict 100% what sites they will use on any given day. If we get the location right there is a number of things that can hamper plans. For instance it only takes one disturbance event to flush all the birds from the catch site such as a jogger or a hunting bird of prey perhaps.
In order to give ourselves the best chance of a successful catch we collect as much information on each potential catch site as possible and how the birds use them. We record the bird’s positions at various tidal states, how they respond to disturbance, weather conditions etc, all this will allow us to make sound choices when choosing target sites.The recent and upcoming high tides have already ruled out certain locations.
|Dublin Bay - A lot of ground to cover!|
All the homework and preparatory will continue over the coming weeks, it hasn’t been all that bad, the weather has been unseasonably mild so all day watches have been made that bit easier! Other benefits of being out and about Dublin Bay on all day watches is that occasionally something a little bit special might fly past. This week BWI staff managed to find a Ross’s Gull a very rare visitor that normally calls North America home, breeding in the high arctic there and in Siberia.
|Ross's Gull, an unusual visitor|
So please keep your eyes peeled for our already colour ringed birds throughout the marshes and recreational pitches around Dublin Bay. Be sure to contact us with any sightings of colour ringed birds and hopefully in the coming weeks there will be many more new colour ringed birds joining them.
See March 2013 blog post regarding “Cannon Netting” and our past successes with this catch method. For additional information on bird ringing check out the BTO (British Trust of Ornithology) webpages at:
It’s important to mention that all members of the ringing team are licensed by the BTO and The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) here in Ireland.
Ricky Whelan – New DBBP Assistant