Saturday, 18 July 2015

Of twitchers and ringers

Late June saw me squeeze in a couple of quality twitches- first up was a splendid 1st summer male Ortolan in Morar, followed the next day by good views of a Blyth's reed warbler near Inverurie- at one point it even started to sing! Unfortunately the Ortolan was trapped and ringed and never seen again which was a shame as a number of birders were enroute to see what is a very rare bird for mainland Scotland. I was grateful to have been invited to see the bird before the ringers intervened as I would have been very miffed to have dipped under such circumstances. I can appreciate the scientific value of some ringing methodologies but the seemingly growing trend of targeting a scarcity in order to obtain a 'ringing tick' appears to be a worrying development within some sections of the ringing fraternity. Each to their own of course, but with so much 'guidance' given to birders and photographers concerning birds' welfare I wonder if, when and how it will/may become necessary to mitigate for ringing activities that have questionable scientific objectives in a similar way? 

1st summer male Ortolan.
As anticipated July has seen a major slump in terms of quality birds to be seen in the North of Scotland- largely a function of continuing challenging weather conditions, coupled with the usual interlude to migration. In consequence I have concentrated on gathering breeding evidence from my local patches in order to put the information onto the BTO bird track system that gets forwarded to the highland recorder for inclusion in the Highland bird report. I've managed some good records for the area including recently fledged chicks of redstart, winchat, grey wagtail and ring ouzel in addition to the commoner species such as spotted flycatcher, lesser redpoll, siskin, ringed plover and oystercatcher. Two barn owls visiting a probable nest site was an unexpected bonus as these birds have been slow to recover from  a couple of  back to back harsh winters a number of years ago. I have also seen two Black-throated diver chicks and enjoyed marvellous scope views of an adult in its magnificent summer plumage. 
common sandpiper
Barn owl
Ringed plover chick
Oystercatcher chick