Thursday, 22 March 2012


I had a day off work last Friday so decided the only thing to do was to go ringing!  It was a little breezy so I decided to use my new whoosh net that I had bought from the Grampian Ringing Group last November.  It was slow going and I trapped a single robin and dunnock.  I was targeting tree sparrows although they were very wary of the net but I caught one.  The wind dropped so I put up a net and trapped another half dozen sparrows.  I whoosh netted 3 woodpigeons in the afternoon, however the star birds were in the form of a pair of grey partridge that walked over the set whoosh net on to the seed.  I didnt hesitate and fired the net.  I ran over to the net but the birds were jumping and running to the edges of the net, however I managed to bag both birds.  These were only the second and third grey partridge I have ringed in the past 11 years so I was over the moon. Well worth the trip out!!

One last seo

As the seo's were still about last weekend, I decided to keep going and try and trap one last owl.  I was only able to go out on the Sunday which was a shame as the weather on Saturday looked alot better for ringing.  I met Jason, Jim and Dave at the site near Sunderland at 2pm and got the usual two net lanes set. Whilst setting up two children flushed two seo of the mound so that gave us hope that the birds were still present.  Only problem was it was rather breezy and sunny, not great for catching birds with good eye sight.  We waited and we waited but the owls were not hunting.  I had said we would pack up at 6pm however as the sun set the owls came out to play.  At 6.30 an owl flew in and landed on a fence post very close to us and then continued to hunt so I said we would give it until 7pm.  As we walked to the first net we flushed an owl of the mound and I thought well thats it for the night.  I approached the second line of nets and noticed something dark in the middle net, thinking it was a blackbird or something I wondered over and a big pale wing rose from the deck.  I couldnt believe it, a short-eared owl had found the net at the last moment.  Jason had the pleasure of ringing the bird and it was soon released to join the other owl.

We have been very fortunate to ring 4 short-eared owls this winter.  I hope to submit an article on owl trapping for the ringers bulletin in the near future.  Thanks to the landowners for granting permission to ring on their land this winter.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Last owl session of the winter

During last week the weather forecast for Sunday looked very good for ringing, however by Saturday it had all changed.  I hoped to still get out but had to wait for the rain to stop which was not until 1500.  I spent the morning staring out of the window.  I got to Prestwick Carr just after 1520 and set the nets with a work colleague.  Two lines of three nets were set in the short-eared owls hunting areas by 1630.  Straight away there was a short-eared owl flying around the netting area.  The bird disappeared so I thought I would have a walk down the road to see where it was.  I was very surprised to see it in the top shelf of the net and only 20min after setting the net.  The bird was aged as an immature born last year and like the other two short ears trapped this year, I expect it is a male on weight.

I had nets up until 2000 however I did not catch anymore owls.  Other birds seen included a cracking peregrine with prey flying over the Carr towards the airport and c45 curlew.  A tawny owl was also heard calling nearby.

© Lisa Russell

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Double Whammy!

I have been planning to go to another site where there have been up to 6 short eared owls this winter.  This week there have only been two birds present.  After doing an early start at work, I turned up at the site and set 5 mist nets.  We didn't have to wait long before a short eared owl was in one of the nets.  The bird was aged as an adult and sexed as a male on it's weight.  To make things better on the last net round we found a barn owl in the bottom shelf.  It was a control so I am looking forward to finding out where the bird was originally trapped. Photos to be posted soon.

© Jim Wagner