I have always wanted to attend a ringing conference and I have to say, it is a great experience. I would recommend it to any ringer who has never attended one. The weekend that has just passed; Kane and I, along with Gillian, headed up to the Scottish Ringers Conference in Carrbridge for a long weekend; situated in the Cairngorms National Park.
The trip began early morning on Friday and as we left Manchester Piccadilly station, Kane and I were really looking forward to a weekend of talks, lectures and ringing. A few hours later and we arrived at Linlithgow station, soon greeted by Gillian. A short drive and we arrived at Linlithgow Loch and within minutes we had our 1st Scottish Coot, ready to be ringed. The 1st bird of the Scottish Coot Project was hand-caught by Gillian and now wears CAA! Well done Gillian!
Throughout the morning a total of 20 new Coot were caught, including 1 retrap. Several Black-headed gulls were also caught during the morning including a superbly caught Swedish control by Kane!
A trip to Airthey Loch in search of Coot drew a blank, however this stunning male Goosander wandered into grabbing range and was caught by Kane. What a stunner!
After a hugely successful days ringing it was soon time to travel north to Carrbridge. Arriving in Carrbridge we booked into our rooms and settled in with a few drinks. This year the Scottish Ringers Conference was being held by the Grampian Ringing Group and I have to say it was a huge success as we all thoroughly enjoyed it!
A selection of talks and lectures was given, covering many interesting ringing projects throughout the Grampian Ringing Groups Range. Hand catching gulls in the local harbours drew a particular interest to us as we have never seen this method used. Talks by Raymond Duncan, and Ewan Weston introduced us to their Waxwing and Sandwich Tern projects, all superb stuff! I hope to try this gull catching method in the next week or too so I shall let you know how it goes.
A brief visit to the RSPB Loch Garten reserve proved rather rewarding. Our main aim was to locate Crested Tits for Gillian and Kane as they had never seen them before but we were soon distracted by the abundance of Coal Tits, later to find that they fed from our hands as you can see from the photos above! I think the hour or so we spent hand feeding Coal tits was one of the main highlights of the trip for us.
On Sunday morning we left Carrbridge for Stirling as Kane was giving a talk to some of the students at the university there. This was later followed by a trip around the City of Edinburgh in search for Coot but to no avail, but 13 Black-headed gulls and 1 Tufted Duck sure made up for it at St Margaret's Loch.
A massive thanks are in order to Gillian and Kane for a superb weekend and to Gillian for doing most of the driving throughout the trip! The Grampian Ringing Group also gets a huge thanks for providing an awesome ringers conference and many enjoyable laughs along the way. I am sure we will be back again next year guys to exchange some more catching methods.