For the past 5 years Friends of Nevis have supported a bird ringing survey at the Contemplation Woodland adjacent to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. Ringing is carried out by locally based licenced ringers John Owen and Friends of Nevis Trustee Kirstie Ross, both of whom have undergone extensive training and have many years’ experience. The ringing involves using specialist mist nets to catch the birds in a safe manner, allowing ringers to determining species, age, sex, take key measurements, then fit them with harmless lightweight number coded rings. Fitting the birds with rings means that if they are re-caught in subsequent surveys or otherwise recovered, information about their movement, lifespans etc can be determined. On a national level the data is collated and provides vital information regards species distribution, population numbers, productivity, longevity, ranges, and movement. Birds are vital components of biodiversity and changes to numbers, species distribution and bird movement can give important information, for example regards effects of habitat change and climate change.
The following information on birds caught and ringed in Glen Nevis has been kindly provided by ringer, volunteer and FoN Trustee Kirstie. From 2018 to October 2022 the team ringed 1393 new birds and re-caught 263 birds. There have been 27 different species caught, varying from tiny Goldcrest to larger birds such as Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon and Common Gull. Chaffinch, Siskin, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Great Tit are the top 5 most common species caught.
In 2022 around 420 new birds and 100 re-caught birds have been recorded. Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch and Robin were re-caught in 2022, which had previously been ringed in 2018 making them at least 4 years old. One Tree creeper which was ringed in 2019 making it at least 3 years old.
More local woodland species: (Left) Treecreeper and (Right) male Greater Spotted Woodpecker
On the last ringing session for 2022, a chilly but sunny Saturday 10th December, around 60 new birds were caught and roughly 25 retraps.
There was a big influx of Blackbirds (15+), some with long wings suggesting possibly they were migratory birds from Scandinavia. Highlight bird of the day was a Redwing (from it's markings and wing length it was from the Scandinavian population rather than Icelandic). There were also 3 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers including one ringed previously.
In the UK ringing has been taking place for over 100 years and currently the British and Irish Ringing Scheme is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Over 900,000 birds are ringed in Britain and Ireland each year by over 2,600 trained ringers, most of whom are volunteers. If you are interested in learning more pop over to the BTO website: https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/ringing/about
Ring recoveries can be reported to https://app.bto.org/euring/lang/pages/rings.jsp
At the time of writing Avian Flu is still affecting bird populations in Scotland, in particular seabirds, please see this notice from NatureScot regards health risks from handling sick or dead birds: https://www.nature.scot/doc/avian-influenza-bird-flu
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