Martens & Beetles

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Fieldwork, Methods, News, Photos | 0 comments

Not much to report after week 2 – I’ve been housebound for the last couple of days waiting for rain to clear and mapping data to arrive. Martens Last week I went out with Edmunds & his ladder and we set up 12 camera traps, each facing a triad of baited trees: 1 treated with turpentine, 1 with a strip of plastic and 1 untreated. We’re trying to test whether these different treatments prevent Pine Martens climbing the trunk, and therefore whether it’s worth spending time and money protecting nestboxes this way. What we may find is that Martens usually access the bait...

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Isotopes, and other news

Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 in Methods, News | 0 comments

CAnMove Course. I’m now back in the office after an excellent 2 week course at Lund University (Sweden) on the Ecology of Animal Migration. I met lots of nice, interesting, clever people, and learnt a lot about the causes and consequences of animal migration, as well as some of the techniques used to track animal movement. We even squeezed in a trip to Falsterbo Bird Observatory, where there was an awesome push of finches, tits, woodpigeons and sparrowhawks. The course is well summed up here by the course organiser, Tom Evans (who worked on Skomer Island a few years before...

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Wish you were here

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Fieldwork, Methods, News, Photos | 0 comments

Well, the French weather has outdone itself this week. This was the view from my desk a few hours ago: So, I’ve spent the last few days doing ‘indoor’ jobs. I’ve had fun going through the videos from the 2 nestbox cameras which were deployed last year, trying to identify prey and record provisioning rate – it’s very time consuming, but also quite interesting. Here is a Cicadidae (I’m also learning my insect families!) getting fed to a brood of 5 chicks. I’ve also been testing the PIT tag readers, which are designed to measure provisioning rate...

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Rolling along

Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in Methods, News | 0 comments

Well, the Rollers are heading north and it’s now less then 4 weeks until I fly out to France (my colleague Phil goes to Cyprus is less than a fortnight!). The pressure is on to get together all the necessary equipment and plan exactly how I’m going to spend my 3 months in France. The main cause of frustration, anxiety and disappointment are the RFID readers, which we’re planning to use to monitor chick provisioning rates. We’re using a system designed by a guy in the States, built by some guys down in the ENV electronics workshop (aka the dungeon) and ‘project...

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Playing with Geolocators

Posted by on Mar 6, 2013 in Fieldwork, Methods, News | 0 comments

One of the major difficulties when it comes to studying the ecology of long distance migrants is our poor understanding of what they get up to in the non-breeding season – where they overwinter, how they get there, what habitats they use, etc. In the case of Afro-Palearctic migrants, political instability makes ground work tricky – plus, Africa is a massive! Traditionally we relied on people coming across dead birds which had previously been ringed in Europe – however, recovery rates are extremely low & biased towards inhabited areas, and the fact that we’re...

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Playing with PIT tags

Posted by on Feb 24, 2013 in Methods | 0 comments

In addition to booking flights and making this website, I’ve spent the last week or so playing with plastic, glue, boiling water and sharp knives, all in the name of ‘provisioning rates’. One of the aims of the project is to find out how the habitat makeup of a territory influences breeding success, via its influence on prey availability, foraging behaviour and chick diet. An important component of foraging behaviour is provisioning rate – the frequency with which parents deliver food to chicks – which, all other things being equal, should influence how much...

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