It's been an incredibly busy past couple of months, but I'm relieved to say that today I ringed my last brood of chicks of the field season. In total that makes just over 550 chicks of 4 different species!
Here in Wytham, we mark all chicks nesting in the boxes with a BTO metal ring, each of which has a unique number-letter code and is placed on their leg. They are extremely light so as not to cause any discomfort to the birds, comparable to the weight of a mobile phone in our pockets. The rings provide really useful information, allowing us to collect data and determine the birds' movement and survival when caught again in the future, both in Wytham and beyond. Additionally, we place a PIT tag onto the second leg of all great tit chicks. These are special rings (also extremely light) which allow a bird to be identified without even having to catch it. They are essentially small magnets that don't themselves actively emit any information, but when they pass through a specific signal they disrupt it in a uniquely identifiable way. This allows the birds to be identified without capture, for example, at specialist bird feeders and nest boxes, therefore making it possible to really accurately track the movements, habits and life histories of individuals.
I've really enjoyed this field season, and have learned much more about how the breeding phenology and habits of these four woodland birds operate. For now I'll take a break from fieldwork, returning to more of the analysis and writing-up of my DPhil project, but I'm looking forward to doing the season this time again next year!
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A blog of my ideas, photography and research of the natural world.