Raptor ringing on Salisbury Plain

Today I had an incredible day ringing raptors on Salisbury Plain! My ringing group has over 300 different boxes including Kestrel, Barn owl and Tawny owl and every year we go up and ring the pulli (chicks in the nest). Over the past two years I haven’t been able to go up at all due to covid, so I was very excited to finally go up today!

We started by ringing some Kestrel chicks and oh my god aren’t they the cutest!! There was quite a big range of sizes of chicks, from some really small which had only hatched a few days ago, to very big chicks only a few weeks away from fledging. In total we ringed 16 chicks from 3 broods, and have at least 4 broods of smaller ones to go back for next week.

In one of the boxes, we managed to catch an adult female. She was ringed, and a after flicking back through the book, we found that she was ringed by our group 5 years ago as a chick, in exactly the same box she is breeding in this year; how amazing is that!! That is what ringing is about, finding out more about a bird’s life and their movements!

In one of the boxes, alongside lots of smelly pellets, we found a common lizard that had been predated. How interesting is that!

A big shoutout to the amazing Robert, who has 2 artificial hips and 2 artificial knees and still climbs up precarious ladders and then free climbs up extremely high to all of the boxes!

I also ringed a fluffy Tawny owl chick from a natural nest in a big cavity in a tree. The adults started nesting in a box on the same tree, but were taken over by Jackdaws, so tried again in a hole on the other side of the tree.

When driving along a road, we spotted a crow nest in a low hawthorn nest and were also able to ring both of the 2 chicks.

It was a brilliant day and I had a lot of fun learning how to ring raptor chicks as they are very different from small passerines! I got another 3 new ringing ticks to add to my spreadsheet, and cannot wait to get back up on the plain hopefully next week!

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