Saturday, 5 April 2014

The three chicks hatched today
I love being a bird ringer, someone who safely catches birds and puts identification rings on their legs so we can follow them later in life. It gives you the chance to really see birds up close and have an intimate insight into their lives. 

As part of becoming a ringer I have also had the privilege of ringing babies birds in their nests. And in recent years I have got more into this, especially as the British Trust for Ornithology has been promoting us to look out for nests and record the number of eggs and chicks. This is providing a better picture of how well our common (and less common) birds are doing in terms of having eggs and babies. 

The four beautiful eggs a week ago
Over the past week I have been following a nest of dunnock eggs in my garden. I suspected they were nesting and a little searching revealed a nest with four beautiful bright blue eggs. This morning I checked on the nest to find three tiny babies and a single egg. Incredible! I think they have only just hatched and over the next week I will follow their development. 

It is wonderful to see baby birds up so close in the wild. They grow so quickly and I hope to be able to ring them in a week's time. If they get found alive (or dead) we will know how old they are and where they came from. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Seadragon bones found while fossil hunting with school

The two seadragon or Ichthyosaur
bones are top  right in the photo.
I took a Bristol school fossil hunting yesterday. In ten years of doing these trips, I have seen the backbones of seadragons or Ichthyosaurs ( found only twice before (once by a teacher).

Yesterday, I found one while talking to one of the teachers (it was just there by my foot!), and then one of the girls suddenly showed me a fossil - it was another backbone of an Ichthyosaur! These sea-faring reptiles lived around Bristol 200 million years ago and lived in the warm, tropical seas that existed back then.

The backbone found by the pupil
They are rare to find here so something to shout about. Along with these the children found lots of different shelly fossils (oysters, spiky cockle-like shells, curly whirly shells), fossilised poo (coprolites), and tiny teeth from ancient fishes.