Sunday 2 March 2014

Tuned In

Following on from our big catch in late January we have been up and down the length and breadth of Dublin Bay radio tracking the 11 radio-tagged birds. Of the 11 birds fitted with transmitters,  4 are Oystercatchers, 4 are Bar-Tailed Godwits and 3 are Redshanks. In the month since we have been extremely busy tracking the birds' movements both by day and by night at both high and low tide states.

Helen & Niall on a tracking session at Shelly Banks

A typical radio tracking transect between West Pier (Dun Laogaoire) and Sutton takes in up to 15 vantage points (VP). At each VP we use a receiver with a Yagi aerial to scan for and pick up the individual frequencies from the birds. The Yagi aerial looks like a rooftop television aerial and attracts lots of attention and funny comments from passing traffic. Once a frequency is detected, we plot the direction of the strongest signal an effort to map the bird’s location.

On each visit, we encounter most of the frequencies across the transect VPs. We are already starting to see some patterns; for example, the Oystercatchers tend to use the same parts of the bay more consistently than both the Bar-wits and Redshanks. It’s fantastic to get such immediate results and is a really rewarding but challenging survey method. The weather, traffic noise and tech issues are among some of the challenges encountered by the team.

Soft Day Out!

When we are out on transects we are always on the lookout for colour ringed birds to help gather more data on individual movements. This helps to reinforce and compliment the data we have gathered through tracking and core count surveys. We welcome new ring readers and are delighted to receive any sightings of colour ringed birds. If you are keen to get involved or report a sighting please get in touch with Niall Tierney

We have another action packed month ahead before the birds head off to breed. Make sure to say hello if you see us out and about in the coming weeks!

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