Wednesday, 18 July 2012

BBQ & Petrels

On Saturday night the CCG and the Ringing Group held an open night at Whitburn Coastal Park. It began at 7pm with a BBQ at Souter Lighthouse. It was very well attended with well over 30 people enjoying the free food put on by the Groups. John was alpha male and took charge of the grill and I was more than happy to let him! According to weather reports it was meant to be a cloudy evening with possible showers, but as we ate our food in the open the weather was lovely. As everyone was enjoying the evening, at around 9.30pm myself, John and Andy nipped away to put the nets out in preparation for the second part of the event, the Storm Petrel Ringing. We were feeling really hopeful as on thursday myself and John had a practice run and there were loads of Stormies then. Unfortunately the wind was really strong that night so most of them bounced out of the nets before we could get a hold of them. So as long as the weather stayed fine we had a great chance tonight. Shortly after 10.00pm the people started to make their way over from the BBQ, and we all settled in to wait for the dark to come. While we patiently waited for the birds to arrive we were entertained by a number of Common Pipistrelle Bats buzzing around searching for Moths. There were also a few Common Toads scattered around, which the kids loved playing with! Then at around 11.30pm, John returned from checking the nets and he was carrying a little white bag. We had one! It was handed to Andy to do the sciencey stuff before it was shown to the excited crowd. I never ever grow tired of seeing peoples reactions to seeing these amazing little birds, especially when they realise that such a small, fragile looking thing spends most of its life out at sea. But they are obviously a lot tougher than they look! Once everybody had had a good look at the bird we took it to one side and released it unharmed. A job well done. We then settled down to wait for the next bird to come when, surprise surprise, the heavens opened. It started chucking it down and forced everyone to scarper for their cars. After a little wait the rain hadnt eased so most of the people went off home. Myself and the other Ringing lads hung around a bit longer but called it a night ourselves at 1.00am. Despite just getting the one bird it was a really successful night. The BBQ was a big success and everybody got to see a Petrel. Mission complete!

Sunday, 15 July 2012










CUBA - JULY 2012

A very, very late decision (ie just days before!!) saw myself and Maria heading off to the Caribbean yet again. This year the destination was somewhere neither of us had actually considered before, Cuba. But thankfully it turned out to be an excellent choice. It had a beautiful beach for Maria to relax on, and enough greenery and wildlife for me not to get too bored! Our hotel was in the area of Holguin on the east of the island. It was a stunning area, with gorgeous white sandy beaches surrounded by miles and miles of lush exotic forest. Perfect for a relaxing, peaceful holiday.
As ever this was in no way a wildlife holiday, but as usual I managed to get myself a couple of hours in early in the morning and the odd wander in the evening, so I still managed to see a fair bit. The hotel grounds themselves had a great variety of wildlife, with lots of species of birds, hundreds of butterflies of various types, plenty of lizards, and loads and loads of crabs! They were absolutely everywhere. But there was one creature that thankfully we hardly seen at all, mosquitos! As we were in the middle of the rainy season we were expecting to be bombarded by them, but we hardly seen any at all around the complex. Admittedly I did get a fair few bites when I went exploring in the surrounding forests but that is to be expected. In total I saw 48 different species of birds, 19 of which I had never seen before. The highlight was easily seeing the Cuban Tody, an absolutely stunning little bird which was thankfully very common. Another was the huge Great Lizard Cuckoo. Great to see and even better to hear! Away from birds, another highlight was snorkelling with a huge shoal of Barracuda fish. A great experience!