Saturday, 21 June 2014

White-tailed Eagle Ringing...

Again it's been awhile since I posted on here. Just a combination of never having the time to update things or not having the time to actually go birding. Now the dog is getting bigger and stronger and slightly more controlled when I take him out I have a chance to keep one eye on what's actually around too.

A couple miles down the river is the River Carron. It's a fairly easy going route with a good track so it's perfect for walking the dog and a bonus is that it's actually a very nice stretch of river. Over the last couple weeks I have been seeing Common Sandpiper down there making a lot of noise standing on the rocks at the river's edge or feeding from the track itself (part of the route is the old course of the river). Managed to get a couple of shots of them.

Also saw my first Swifts of the year just last week when I was through in Conon Bridge back flying over the house and screaming down the street. Nice to see as there really isn't any out here in this area at all.

My highlight of the month though or possibly the whole year or even the biggest bird highlight for me ever happened this week. One of the perks of working for Forestry Commission Scotland over here is that you get invited along to observe this year's White-tailed Eagle chicks being ringed. I went out with the lovely Dr. Alison MacLennan (RSPB), Justin Grant and Lewis Pate to observe them ringing chicks at an undisclosed location on Skye on FCS land. Also in attendance were Sarah Stephenson (local RSPB education officer) with three lucky primary school kids from Portree and a guy filming a documentary on the wildlife of Skye! So it was quite an interesting crowd.

Upon reaching the estimated area which had been recorded by Sarah who is also the WTE surveyor we first had to find which tree this pair were nesting in. After a couple minutes the female was flying over head giving fantastic views before she moved off and we located the nest tree. It was a big hairy Sitka Spruce which was going to make lowering whatever was in the nest to the ground a bit tricky.

Lewis and Justin scaling the tree.

But after a couple hours the single chick was lowered down safely and we could all have a look. I don't know who was more excited, me or the school kids. Everyone kept quiet as the camera man got some footage of the kids standing next to the bird and then Justin and Lewis starting to measure, ring and weigh the chick.

The chick is thought to be a female from the measurements taken and was a healthy weight with a nice full crop. The primary school kids named her Rio (is there a World Cup on?) and all 3 of them were in awe of the chick (as was I). I couldn't get over the size of the feet, massive!

Justin preparing the equipment.
Ringing the chick.
The bird was only the ground maybe 15 minutes and after the final weight was taken was lifted back up into the nest just as the female was back to put in an appearance. So all in all a successful morning and a great experience for me, I do love my job sometimes.

No comments:

Post a Comment