Tagging – Part 1

It has been a whirlwind year since training for GPS-tagging last year. Much of the winter was spent trying to bait and trap free-flying juvenile buzzards and red kites. We had great success with the birds coming to the bait but less success getting them to come to the bait once the trap was set! The survival of these birds depends on their ability to know every inch of their territory and despite how much we camouflaged the trap the birds just weren’t ‘taking the bait’ on trapping days!

Two buzzards picked up at the bait by a wildlife camera – say “Cheese”!
‘White’ kite : leucisitc red kite, born in 2018 (pink tag), recorded at one of the bait sites

We were very lucky to capture two buzzards, one in January and one in February, both in hot-spot areas. Unfortunately they were both adult birds, so possibly wont range as widely as juvenile birds – but the data will be extremely valuable nonetheless. And it was incredible to actually get the first tags on!

The tags are fitted to the birds using a harness made from Teflon® ribbon which is non-abrasive and non-stretch which helps with the comfort of the fit on the bird. The harness fits on the bird like a backpack, with straps over each shoulder and under each wing, meeting over the sternum where they are sewn together with cotton thread. The adult birds can be feisty so sometimes we use a falconer’s hood to keep the bird calm whilst we attached the harness.

Unfortunately other commitments began to take priority and it was decided to put off trapping until winter 2019/2020 if necessary, and use the remaining tags on juvenile birds accessed in their nests in June where possible.