The research is aided by data obtained through the process of the capturing and ringing of birds by well-qualified ('A') ringers, mainly based in the UK, who volunteer to man the operation for varying lengths of time from a couple of weeks to several months at a time. Trainee ringers looking to gain experience are welcome, provided there is a trainer available or an 'A' ringer to supervise them.There is no resident ringer.It's a popular venue, and bookings must be made to ensure the availability of the accommodation provided. (Bookings are accepted on a 'first come, first served' basis and are managed by Jill Yeoman.)
|The Bird Observatory and accommodation facilities are based here at the field centre on the Upper Rock|
|The view from the Observatory doorway, looking across the Bay|
|A Chiffchaff caught in a mist net|
|Chiffchaff being carefully extricated from netting|
|A truly beautiful, tiny Serin|
|A Robin protesting at being held upside down|
|The nets are very fine but strong enough to support a healthy Song Thrush|
|A beautiful bright-eyed bird, this song thrush was quite feisty and voiced its protest at the indignity of being caught|
|Ian, the current resident ringer carrying in birds|
The bags are hung from hooks numbered to correspond with the number of nets in use. There are potentially 20 nets that may be 'open'; today there were 18 in use.
The birds are processed methodically and great attention is paid to accurate identification, ageing, measuring, weighing and assessing the general health of each individual, including how much muscle it has and the fat store it has managed to accumulate.
As Ian said, "There is absolutely no point to ringing birds and recording data if it is not 100% accurate."
|Bags of birds|
|Strings of rings|
Bird ringing is carried out under the auspices of the BTO, British Trust for Ornithology, and Gibraltar uses British rings.
The rings are sized with AA being the smallest and C the largest.
AA ring: Serin
A ring: Robin, Black Redstart, Blackcap
B ring: Greenfinch, Woodchat Shrike
CC ring:Orphean Warbler, Song Thrush
C ring: Cuckoo, Hoopoe
|Measuring the length of a Robin's wing|
|One of today's pages from the data record book|
|A female Blackcap posing for a photograph before flying away|
|She was reluctant to leave and sat on Jill's open hand for a few seconds|
|A male Blackcap was much keener to leave|
|The browner plumage of this well-marked Chiffchaff identified it as northern European|
Visitors are welcomed at the Observatory, but as the welfare of the birds is the primary consideration of the working ringer, this must be respected. Most ringers prefer to work as quietly as possible as undue noise will disturb the birds. They may also be very busy and prefer not to be distracted from their work, so be prepared to be asked to be quiet, or even asked to leave the building.