Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The MUTE SWAN projects in 2016

The MUTE SWAN projects in 2016

This year we will be looking at 4 aspects of the Mute Swans within the survey area.

  1. · We will be conducting another Mute Swan Nesting Census. Following on from the very successful census in 2015 we will be counting nests and looking at outcome. (I and others have our BTO and NPWS nest recording license and we will also be recording and submitting nest records).
  2. · Cygnet survival and dispersal. With about 50 of the 2015 Cygnets coloured ringed, we can obtain survival data annually and continue to look at dispersal
  3. · We hope to conduct a census and count the number of Swans in June. This is when the majority of Swans are moulting and movement between sites should be at it’s lowest.
  4. · We are commencing a Mute Swan RAS on April 1st

Nesting Swans.  Photo taken from 50m away!


What is it and why?

When collecting and looking at data it is necessary that it is comparable to something historical or contemporary. We are going to use the RAS criteria for this purpose.

Retrap Adults for Survival (RAS)

The Retrap Adults for Survival (RAS) scheme is a national standardised ringing programme within the BTO Ringing Scheme. Within Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, there are currently only 3 Mute Swan RAS projects and none of them are in Ireland.

In a RAS project, ringers aim to catch or re-sight at least 50 adult birds of a single species in a study area during the breeding season. In our case it will be April 1st to September 30th. (As we have coloured Ringed 100+ adults we will be using re-sightings). The study area is defined and we are aiming to record the vast majority of the adults. All sightings of our coloured rings by licensed ringers, birdwatcher and members of the public are not only most welcome, but necessary for this project to produce accurate data.

The RAS analyses generate two parameters: survival rates and re-encounter rates. The survival rates indicate the proportion of birds that survive and return to the site to breed each year, while the re-encounter rates provide a measure of the probability of a bird’s presence being detected should it have survived and returned; the higher the re-encounter rate, the more precise the survival estimate.

The Survey area

Saturday, 5 March 2016

March 2016 - Mute Swan RAS pending

March 26th

Today was the first of the "mopping up" days for the potentially breeding Mute Swans that are not yet colour ringed.  What a successful day!  In Sean Walsh Park, 2 of the oil spill Mute Swans we had ringed  on Valentines day 2015 were recaptured and a colour ringed added.  They are also already paired with swans within the CR project, although no nesting attempt has been made yet.

Two other potentially breeding adults were processed at other sites. It is so rare that a Swan code is actually a word I was surprised when inputting that one of the Swans was now a CALF!

The RAS starts next week on April 1st

March 20th

At Bullock Harbour this afternoon, there were 3 Great Black backed Gulls with the Blue rings from Irelands Eye.  2KE, 2LH and 1VA.

However, what surprised me most was that 3 Light Bellied Brent climbed out onto the low pier and grazed among the Great Black Backed Gulls, followed by a sanderling!

March 19th

While out reading Swan Rings on the Canal at Davitt Road in Dublin, the lack of Black Headed Gulls was noticeable.  From 200+ last week to 16 this week.  However, perched on top of a building was one with a coloured ring!  Very far away, but photographed it with a 500mm lens.  I assumed it was the one I saw last week JHP9 but was surprised that it was yet another new (to me) Norwegian Black Headed Gull.

I was glad I took so many photographs as it was W[J0Y8] and deciding if the digits were O/0/D, Y/V and 8/B etc. wasn't easy  However, once certain I input the code into the Norwegian Website and Bingo another Norwegian Gull that winters in Galway on the West Coast.

Black Headed Gull + Norway + J0Y8

March 18th

It appears that many of the black headed gulls have already left Ireland for the breeding grounds and the numbers in the parks are suddenly down.  The mix also has changed with suddenly the majority of Black Headed Gulls are Juveniles as the Adults have left first.  The larger gulls are in, with lesser black backed gulls and particularity Herring Gulls increasing.  Still worth looking out for the odd ring passing through.

Today in Sean Walsh Park I spotted a Great Black Backed Gull and waited for it to come out of the water.  Eventually it did.  A blue ring, 1JJ.  This individual was ringed on Irelands Eye and I recorded it in the park last May.

March 17th

News on the Swan front.  There has been a large amount of movement in the last 10 days.  So this morning we went catching at Broadmeadows to celebrate St Patricks day!  The Swans that are un-ringed are more cautious than the ones we have ringed already. However, we caught and colour ringed 6 more at this location.
The juveniles have all left Fr Collins Park in the last 2 weeks.  Of the five, three have been recorded at Broadmeadows.  7km North of the park

March 9th

A better day in Sean Walsh Park, the Black Headed Gull with the Lithuania Ring landed nearby.  I was just photographing the metal ring when a Darvic ringed Black Headed Gull landed, so although I got the ring code I don't have a good photo of the bird! I was right yesterday, the full code is HA23.459!

However this Black Headed Gull is Bird of the day!  It is not the first time I have seen VY42.  I recorded it in Bray Harbour in November 2014.  Mine was the only sighting at time.  I did not see it in 2015.  Another Darvic Ring to add to my Local Park list.  However, the most interesting thing about this Danish Black Headed Gull is it's metal ring!

I have heard about the vertically inscribed metal rings but have not seen one before. The code is repeated twice on the ring.  If it was a metal only ring it would be easier to read.

March 8th 

The Black Headed Gull 27H0 surprised me today as its head has got considerably darker than last week.  Breeding season approaches.  

However today was more about those that got away or almost did.. There was an Adult Black Headed Gull with a Lithuania metal ring ending in 59, probably 23.459.  I failed to get the first 2 letters which would probably be HA. I will try again tomorrow.

The second near miss was HA 36.807 also from Lithuania.  I had 36.807 but the letters were blurry. However, I had seen this Juvenile before and am confident with the HA.  A Black Headed Gull with a white Darvic flew passed me at lake 3 and landed.  It wasn't 27H0 but it swam away, possibly 4ET, hopefully I will photograph it tomorrow!

March 7th

It is always worth scanning the flocks of Black Headed-Gulls for Med Gulls.  This one in Sean Walsh Park wasn't ringed (unfortunately)!

March 6th

I was unimpressed with my photo of the Black Headed Gull JHP9, so I went to Davitt Road again today and armed with a loaf of bread attracted the black headed gulls.  It wasn't long before JHP9 made an appearance.  Long enough for a few photos before the next walkers put them all up again!  Success!

I then walked west on the Canal and read some of my Swan rings.  CAFB was ringed at Broadmeadows, Swords some 16km away.  It is one of the more mobile Swans but seems to have settled on this stretch of the canal and is quite taken by CAKA!

March 5th

On the Grand Canal in Dublin, there are always 100's of Black Headed Gulls but I have never seen one in this location with a Coloured ring.  So early this morning while reading Swan rings I was very surprised to see a white Darvic and even more surprised when it was one I had not seen before.
Black Headed Gull from Norway JHP9

W[JHP9] is from Norway and they have a web based reporting system, so after inputting the data it's life history is available.  This Gull winters in Galway on the west coast!  Last seen in Galway in Mid February so it is on it's way back to it's breeding ground.  It may stay in Dublin till the weather is favourable.

On the Mute Swan front, the numbers in Sean Walsh Park has dropped from 13 to 8.  However, as some of them are ringed they are likely to be re-sighted.  Today CAAC was relocated on the Grand Canal at Davitt Road 7km from where it was ringed in the park.  Also today more movements were recorded.  Among them was the Juvenile CACS.  It was ringed in Tymon Park and it stayed there till February.  It spent February in Ballymount Park just 2km away.  This morning it was on the canal 4km from the ringing location.
Mute Swans on the Grand canal

Sightings of the project swans can be sent to mute.swan.ring"at"gmail.com