Little Stint & Dunlin at Farmoor
This was one of those days that you always hope for as a birdwatcher. At Farmoor reservoir, both a dunlin and little stint could be found foraging together on the fringes of the water. When you read up on these species, they seem quite tricky to set apart from one another - so when the opportunity came to view them side-by-side in the field I was very excited! As can be seen, the little stint is a smaller bird, with an overall slightly more rounded appearance and less mottling on the belly. The dunlin's slightly longer and down-curved bill also seemed much more obvious when next to the little stint's short, straight and stubbier one.
I've been down in Portland, Dorset on a field-trip with the rest of my research group. Unfortunately, there has been fairly persistent rain making it hard to catch and ring birds! However, it was nice to be able to take a trip into Weymouth and do some local birding, including this black-tailed godwit and five new species for my year: European bee-eater; curlew sandpiper; green sandpiper; great white egret and balearic shearwater.
Wytham Woods is the most studied woodland on earth 🌳🌳🌳. Every spring, a population of birds undergo their breeding season as they make their homes in the 1000 or so nest boxes spread across the woods. And every spring, this population is closely monitored by members of the Edward Grey Institute at the University of Oxford.
This year, the long-term monitoring project celebrates it 75th birthday! That's 75 years of continuous data collection, which is incredibly valuable data that has been used to help answer fundamental questions about ecology and evolution. Watch this video to find out how we monitor the population and collect standardised data, taking you through a season in three of the boxes!
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All fieldwork in this video was undertaken with the correct British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) ringing licenses - please do not interfere with breeding birds unless you also have the correct permits!
A Few Scilly Highlights...
Scilly Pelagics Trip
Had a great trip seeing manx shearwaters, storm petrels, and a great skua a few miles off the coast of Scilly!
I have just arrived in the Isles of Scilly for a 2-week family holiday! My first notable wildlife encounter have been these three swallow fledglings that are being fed by the parents in the eaves of Tresco church entrance. It's amazing to think that even though they've only just left the nest, in a couple of months time they will be on a 6-week-long migration all the way to Africa!
Following the busy breeding season, I have taken a short break to Rutland Water to visit the Rutland Water Nature Reserve and Lyndon Nature Reserve, famed for their breeding ospreys that can be seen there. I also enjoyed seeing quite a few avocets, which of course are known as the face of the RSPB!
Wytham Breeding Season 2022
It has been another extremely busy breeding season this year in Bean Wood at Wytham! But with over 180 adults identified, 640 chicks ringed, and ~1500 individual nest-box checks, it is finally drawing to an end. I will be producing a short video in the coming weeks which will take you through the season in a handful of boxes, but for now here are some photo highlights!
Wytham Tits 75th Anniversary
75 years ago today, the first egg was recorded in Wytham, beginning a huge effort to systematically track the breeding attempts of an entire population over multiple decades. I feel very lucky to be just one small cog that has contributed to the data collection in this incredible study which has been so influential and critical in studies of ecology and evolution. Keep an eye out for Wytham across various media outlets this week as we celebrate the anniversary!
BBC News article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61314226
Video clip: https://twitter.com/i/status/1522107127426437120
A series of beautiful wildflowers seen springing out of the hedgerows and grassy meadows in Wytham this time of year.
A blog of my ideas, photography and research of the natural world.