Every year, spring at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science sees many of our scientists busy in the field collecting vital data. Unfortunately, as with many things, COVID meant last year’s field season had to be cancelled. As restrictions are easing, and our scientists are able to get out safely, field work is back with a bang. Today’s first of three blogs will be highlighting the varied work that the team are getting back to.

The Project Godwit team have been busy ringing and catching black tailed godwit chick headstarts. 43 chicks have hatched as part of our headstarting programme this year. Here they are being caught, weighed and tagged before being released at the Ouse and Nene Washes © Guy Anderson

The National Turtle Dove Survey is well under way and because of the amazing response, 730 of you got involved and have covered over 1,300 squares of England – an incredible amount!

Thanks to interest and participation in the survey, there’s been a surge of people sharing their turtle dove images, including this one from Senior Technical Officer Nigel Butcher who managed to capture three in one shot! © Nigel Butcher

We’re also aiming to tag more turtle doves this year. Senior Research Assistant, Chris Orsman, managed to get this great photo of a particular turtle dove who was not at all interested in participating © Chris Orsman

Principal Conservation Scientist David Douglas has recently returned from his sabbatical in Cornwall. David was developing and trialling a method for visual assessment of habitat quality around chough nest sites, and training local volunteers in using the method © David Douglas

Here’s one of our Research Assistants, Samuel Henderson, taking part in the Breeding Waders of Wet Meadows survey organised in partnership with BTO and commissioned by Natural England. Samuel covers the Oxfordshire area and whilst waders have proven quite sparse, he has been fortunate to have some lovely sightings of curlew and lapwing, including a lapwing swooping at a red kite! © Rhys Preston-Allen

Senior Research Assistant Derek Gruar and one of our volunteers Maureen Reeves have been checking the starling nest boxes at Hope Farm, which seem to have had a good year. Sixteen boxes have become occupied plus an additional nest in the roof of the farmhouse. This is the best total of first broods since 2013. Thirteen of these nests were successful in fledging chicks. Left photo © David Reeves. Nest and eggs © Derek Gruar

Up in the Cairngorms, Monitoring Officer Cairngorms Connect Ellie Dimambro-Denson has been doing some “extreme logger downloading” on Abernethy as part of the Cairngorms Connect peatland restoration monitoring. She’s monitoring the flow rates and water quality of burns using data loggers and collecting water samples to track the changes as the restoration work is completed. But because the unusual weather, a couple of the survey burns still being buried under snow cover, even into May © Neil Cowie

Fast forward a month and the snow has all gone. The team were busy putting out camera traps to monitor herbivore presence and nibbling on montane willows. The willow were planted out in Loch Avon last week as part of a genetic rescue project, augmenting isolated existing populations at the site © Ellie Dimambro-Denson

Check out Saturday's blog where we'll be highlighting our seabird fieldwork in time for World Seabird Day!

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