Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Bird Ringing at The King's Project, Laem Pak Bia

I joined Phil Round and a few others on Sunday to assist with bird ringing at the King's Project, Laem Pak Bia. I now know how to handle a bird! What a brilliant way to learn more about the science. The Pied Starling above is in my own hand, head between my index and middle finger and the camera in the other. I never knew where a birds ears were located until this moment: and, of course, in true buffoon fashion as I consult my avian topography chart, this explains why the area is called the ear coverts! This is the cream coloured area to the left of the eye and if you look you can see an upward diagonal line. That's the fellow's ears.

A common kingfisher in the hand and below a tiger shrike, juvenile. If you look closely at the latter's bill you will see a slight kink in the upper bill just below the point. Phil explained this is to facilitate it in ripping flesh! This is a passage migrant on its way to warmer climes for the winter.

Now let me disabuse you of any notions that I did any hard work. I was a passenger and handled a few birds. Phil and his assistants are the real grafters and have been doing it for years, a real labour of love. I was distracted by the pelicans and the photo opportunities they offered.

Basically this is what happens: birds are trapped in mist nets which are emptied every 30 minutes. The birds are transferred into individual small cloth bags and transported to a processing centre. Here they are fitted with a small, light band/ring on their right leg. The  rings have a unique identifier number and the details are entered on a database. The bird is weighed, measured, sexed and aged. Birds of interest  are photographed as below and are then released. I must stress the whole operation is built around the welfare of the birds and everything is done in such a way so as to minimise distress to the birds.

Now there is more and more ringing happening all over the world so birds are being retrapped everywhere and  this process is helping the scientific community to exchange information and indeed to  build up reliable information about birds' vital statistics. So I salute Phil Round and other banders and hope in time I can do a bit more and contribute to this really important work.

A view of the tiger shrike's primaries.

A female yellow-rumped flycatcher, above and below. Now you know where its name comes form! We also had an eastern crowned warbler. These are two important passage migrants. Phil was very pleased with the session as it included a number of retraps plus the passage migrants. I hope in time that I can offer more assistance.
I can claim a tiger shrike as a lifer as one perched on the branches near the banding station so it counts as a true wild bird.

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