The otter project is going well both at the two original study areas; RSPB Minsmere and the Alde estuary and also at new study sites on the Blyth estuary and the Lower Waveney.
One of the objectives of the project is to attempt to identify individual otters which is not easy – the trail cams are not really good enough so other methodologies are being trialled.
One of these is footprints; a group of individuals known as http://www.WildTrack have a system by which they say they can identify individual animals by their footprints. They have kindly said they will help our project so we have laid out areas of sand, where we hope otters will walk over. Each individual footprint is the photographed and we then send them off to Germany for analysis – time will tell if it works!
This is probably the busiest time of the year for the Stanny ringing team. Last Saturday Mike and Mervyn caught well over 130 birds at their winter ringing station. The majority were probably siskins, followed by continental Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Bramblings and Reed Buntings – a very late winter selection. Though they did catch a Dartford Warbler two weeks ago, which is not generally seen as part of the usual bunch!
Carl Powell is in a different part of the farm and his selection are thrushes, long tailed tits, kingfishers etc.
Birds are being held in the area through additional feeding, where a selected mix of seeds is broadcast in the same area each week. This is through one of the HLS options – an option which is very successful.
This year the islands that have breeding waders, have been covered with a woven plastic sheeting to kill off the grass and so prevent any spraying operations. This method has worked splendidly and we are very grateful to LBS Horticultural Supplies of Colne, Lancashire for their support, sponsorship and advice. Next year we will cover ALL the islands in autumn as the method is so extremely effective.
The weekend of 19 February saw twelve participants join Steve Piotrowski at Stanny Low Barn for a weekend course on wader ID and involvement in some of the British Trust for Ornithology projects. Saturday was a trip to Orford Ness with Steve to polish up their wader identification skills whilst on Sunday they joined Rodney West on his Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) walk and count. The evenings were filled withe various PowerPoint talks.