Saturday, 18 July 2015

In the middle of the night...

Storm petrels are amazing birds. Living for long periods far out to sea, they brave the waves and dance over the surface to pick food off the water's surface (more info here). And yet they are such delicate-looking birds, not much bigger than a house martin! Being so small, they come out at night when they can also be heard making truly amazing noises - here is their song.

Late summer is wandering time as they leave their remote northern breeding grounds. To study their movements we use mist-nets to catch them at night. They are carefully extracted from the net and swiftly weighed, ringed, measured and released.

We did our first session on Monday night, setting up at 10pm as the sun went down and packing up early at 3am. All was very quiet until 2am when 3 birds came in at once. Half an hour later we had another 4, then nothing more. We ringed 6 of these birds, the 7th being already ringed, possibly earlier in the week at the observatory on Fair Isle. Already this year, a stormie we ringed last year, BTO ring number 2661158 in Scottish Borders on 02/08/2014 was controlled on 9th July this year near Durham. I wonder where it has been in the last twelvemonth, whether it bred, and where it's onward journey will lead.

Thanks to Dennis and Kris for their top photos from last year!