July 2023 - Chew Valley Lake bird ringing station and moth trap
Despite severe weather warnings for high winds and heavy showers, 16 members still felt it was worth the risk, and were not disappointed. In the warm and dry purpose-built hut, head bird ringer, Mike Bailey, gave us an informative and interesting talk about the history of bird ringing and recent advancements.
Bird ringing started over 100 years ago, by Danish teacher Hans Christian Mortensen, using hand-made Aluminium strips, his first trials being with starlings. In 1909, 2 schemes started in the UK, initially using nestlings and birds caught in duck decoys, so not many birds were ringed. In 1956, after the introduction of mist-net trapping, numbers ringed increased exponentially, so that now over 1 million birds are ringed annually in the UK!
Bird ringing has revealed huge amounts about bird migration. For example, nobody knew where Manx Shearwaters went from the UK in winter. Numerous ringed birds (alive and dead) were found on the East coast of S. America! In a more recent Chinese study, numerous swifts were fitted with GPS trackers, which showed that they overwintered in South Africa, having flown W then S over much of Asia & Africa, many thousands of miles!

We only got a brief look at the mist net set up outside before the first squally shower drove us quickly back inside, where we spent an excellent hour identifying over 20 moth species caught in 2 (humane) light traps set up the previous night. Moths have such amazing common names, often describing distinguishing features, such as “Heart and Dart”, “Large yellow underwing”, “Mother of Pearl” and “Bright-line brown eye”. As well as the beautifully illustrated Bloomsbury guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, Mike showed us an impressive phone app called “Obsidentify”, which correctly identified all the moths we found.This made for an inspiring and enjoyable session before releasing the moths outside.

Elephant Hawk-moth
Red Admiral

After thanking Mike for a brilliant morning, our final field trip of the season ended with 3 short stops around the lake, observing black-headed & lesser black-backed gulls (yellow-legged), mallards (males in eclipse plumage - looking like females but with a yellow bill), Canada geese, coots and tufted duck, all common residents, as well as summer visitors swifts and swallows. Certainly not the diversity seen over the winter months, but still plenty of interest watching their behaviour.

A huge thanks to Liz Wintle for once again organising a superb season of memorable, enjoyable and inspiring field trips. Photos also taken by Liz. 

Dave Sage

Huge thanks to Gareth for his expertise and enthusiasm, and to Liz Wintle for organising this very enjoyable and successful trip.

Dave Sage
Other photos: Rita Andrews & Liz Wintle

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Protecting wildlife for the future
Keynsham Group
Avon Wildlife Trust
Registered charity 280422

Email: keynshamawt@gmail.com