On Saturday the 25th March we had another successful bird ringing drop in where we caught 35 wild birds!
Five of these birds were 'retraps' - birds we have previously fitted with a ring with a unique number and have caught again in one of our mist nets. One of the retraps was Blue Tit which we discovered was at least 3 years old - not bad for a small bird in the wild!
For the Woodpecker fans we also re-caught a male Greater Spotted Woodpecker which was looking in great shape for the breeding season.
Of the new birds, we had a surprising catch in the woodland at the Visitor Centre, of three Common Gulls (see photo). Unlike their name suggests, they are not that common these days. Common Gull's are fitted with bigger E size rings, so if you spot a Gull with a metal ring on it in Lochaber, please try and get a photo as you might be able to read the ring number. You can then feed this information to the BTO Ringing scheme, here!
Keep an eye out here and on our Facebook page for more bird ringing dates coming out in the next few weeks!
Diary Dates for 2023:
A brief good weather 'window' on Saturday 7th January enabled BTO licensed bird ringing volunteers John and Kirstie to carry out the first Bird Ringing session of 2023. Friends of Nevis Trustee Kirstie wrote the following:
'We managed to get in some Bird Ringing on Saturday in Glen Nevis. For those of you who like to hear about the Greater Spotted Woodpeckers we re-caught an adult female who was particularly noisy.
62 new birds ringed including a good number of the delightful Long Tailed Tits, Siskins, Chaffinches and Coal Tits. We re-caught 23 birds from previous sessions all doing well.
A huge thank you goes out to Alec and Aileen who regularly fill up some of the feeders and bought replacement feeders out of their own pocket. Their regular filling along with a few others people who feed the birds near the site help to keep a good volume of birds coming to the area.
We had a larger team than normal of Bird Ringers at the demonstration in Glen Nevis with 3 Ringers (including 2 trainees) coming all the way over from Inverness/Moray area to join John and Kirstie. Thank you to all.'
If you missed the opportunity then why not come along on one of the dates shown in the post below? We hope to see you there!
A male woodpecker caught during a previous ringing session in Glen Nevis
Dates below for the popular drop in Bird Ringing events at the Contemplation Woodland at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis. Please be aware that events may be called off or postponed at short notice in the event of bad weather
After the two previous years of lock downs 2022 allowed things to return to normality of sorts, including a full year of volunteer work parties and our first face to face AGM and social for two years, which had full attendance.
A big focus for the year was ensuring that a full programme of path maintenance work was carried out. A combination of Friends of Nevis funding for monthly path maintenance checks by a contractor in the first half of the year, coupled with volunteer work parties (both local and visiting) and lots of support from the 2022 seasonal Nevis Ranger team in the summer ensured that the main section of the Ben Path had at least 3 complete maintenance runs and some sections more. In addition the Allt a Mhuilinn path, Paddies Bridge to Lower Falls path, Steall path, All Ability path and associated Link Paths all received attention as well.
The annual Spring and Autumn Litter Picks in the Glen were also successful with a good turn out for the Autumn event and volunteers teamed up with the Nevis Rangers to carry out Bracken Bashing in the larger 'Future Forests' tree planting exclosure near Steal car park.
Finally volunteers, members and supporters turned out in good numbers to support the Friends of Nevis AGM in early November where Joy and Paul Biggin were both warmly thanked for their long term hard work and commitment in their respective roles of Chair of Trustees and Membership Secretary. Claire McLeod took up the reins as the new Chair of Trustees and she is joined by new Trustees Ali Stewart and Heather Thomson.
A big thankyou then to all of you who ventured out to help as volunteers on work parties or who committed their time and efforts as Trustees or who helped in the background with our social media, as well as everyone who supported Friends of Nevis as members.
Looking ahead to 2023
In early January the trustees will be meeting with Rory Stewart to decide on the Volunteer and engagement calendar for 2023, in addition Kirsty and her fellow Bird Ringer John will be setting some dates for Bird Ringing. Once these are decided they will be posted here and also advertised on the Nevis Landscape Partnership website and associated Eventbrite site.
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
Nevis Panorama and Volunteer Path Worker. Photo credit Ellie Moore.
Injury, new commitments and a no show whittled the volunteer team for our final work party of 2022 down to two, but they proved to be the perfect pair! Ellie and Katie, both experienced ex Nevis Seasonal Rangers, needed no introduction to the task in hand and immediately got stuck in. Using an efficient rolling leapfrog technique the pair helped Participation Officer Rory swiftly clear the initial section of the Ben Nevis Mountain Path from Achintee and down the link path to the Youth Hostel bridge. Cross drains and side ditches were cleared and some remedial work on ditching on the descent to the Youth Hostel Bridge was carried out as well. A great finish to 2022!
Despite a cold wet start to the day a great turn out of 26 willing volunteers assembled at the Ben Nevis Highland Visitor Centre for this years Friends of Nevis Autumn Litter Pick and Curling Ponds Clear Up.
With the large turn out the lower Glen was comprehensively covered including the Ben Nevis Mountain Path up to the top of Heart Attack and also paths and car parks in the upper glen.
A welcome lunch of hot soup and sandwiches was provided at the midday meet up at Braveheart.
The event was a great success with several bags of rubbish being removed from the environment. The rubbish varied from remains of an abandoned tent to the usual collection of wipes, nappies, wrappers etc. It wasn't all rubbish that was being spotted however and it was a privilege to watch an otter hunting in the shallows of the river Nevis from the vantage point of the Youth Hostel bridge. One positive observation was that the efforts of this years Seasonal Nevis Ranger Team could be seen in terms of a reduction in quantity of rubbish being encountered.
A huge thankyou to all the volunteers who turned out, to Kirstie, Fiona, Claire and Hughie who did a brilliant job of organising and to the Highland Council, The Ben Nevis Highland Centre and Nevis Landscape Partnership for supporting the event.
Trustee Kirsty Ross presenting long serving Friends of Nevis Chair Joy Biggin with gifts and flowers on her retirement from the Trustees
Friends of Nevis returned to the Glen Nevis Restaurant to hold their 2022 AGM, the first one to be held in person after the previous two years of lockdown. With a turn out of almost 50 the night was a true social occasion enabling new friends and old to meet and socialize. The original guest speaker was sadly unable to attend however after the formal AGM business was concluded Participation Officer Rory Stewart gave a talk about what Nevis meant to him and Friends of Nevis member Noel Williams gave an excellent illustrated talk on some of the historic crossing points in the Steall Gorge area. He has recently been exploring the gorge, finding remnants of some of the long forgotten crossing points and took some of the Nevis rangers out on an exciting exploration of the south side of the gorge earlier in the summer.
The main event of the evening however was the huge show of affection and gratitude from the Friends of Nevis to Joy Biggin and her husband Paul, who have stepped down from their roles as Chair of the Trustees and Membership Secretary respectively. Joy and Paul have been involved in the Friends since their formation in 2008 and Joy has spent much of that time as an active member, Trustee and for many years Chair. She also served on the board of NLP from 2014-2019 as an advisory director representing the Friends of Nevis. Both Joy and Paul have generously given a huge amount of their time and commitment to the Friends of Nevis and we all wish them all the very best. Joy will continue to serve as a Director on the board of NLP and both will no doubt be seen at many volunteer events.
During the meeting two new Trustees, Alison Stewart and Heather Thomson were proposed and seconded to the board and Trustee Claire McLeod will be taking on the role of Chair of the Trustees.
The popular drop in bird ringing events at the Contemplation Woodland by the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre are set to continue, weather permitting, run by BTO licensed Bird Ringers Kirsty Ross and John Owen
No need to book, just drop in any time between 9am and 3pm on the day
Dates, weather permitting:
Saturday 19th November
Saturday 10th December
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