NLRG was formed in 1957 to help in the study of birds in the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society area. There are currently 12 active ringers. Species currently being studied include: Pied Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Sand Martin, Twite, Goosander, Oystercatcher and Grey Wagtail. Migration has been studied for 28 years at Heysham. We welcome anyone who wants to observe, help or perhaps wish to become a ringer. Photo: A Heysham-ringed Twite on the Mull of Kintyre (thanks to Eddie Maguire)

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Reed Warbler RAS End of Term Report

 I have already reported that it has been a disappointing season for Reed Warblers at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, this I am sure is due to the poor weather throughout much of the season. This has rather restricted our activities and number of ringing sessions is down to 46 compared to an average of 61 over the past five years. Numbers of adult birds caught were only slightly down  at 140 compared to an average of 156. Of these 56 were re-traps from previous years. Our oldest bird was 7 years and 295 days from first ringing as a juvenile. Surprisingly it had not been re-trapped  until this year. We had 2 other birds in their 6th year.

Productivity was well down with only 263 juveniles ringed compared to 976 in 2014 and a five year average of 687. One can only assume that the cool, wet and windy weather during the bulk of the breeding season has taken its toll.

Our main study is Bearded Tits and these are also well down with only 31 juveniles ringed this year compared to 69 last year. To date we have sighted or re-trapped 16 adult males and 17 adult females compared to 21 males and 20 females last year. But there may be more to come as we get more grit tray sightings. The first high flying  behavior was seen yesterday- just a short flight then back into the reeds. Last Saturday we caught 24 Bearded Tits but only 1 was un-ringed. Recent ringing has produced good numbers of Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrests and Chiffchaff.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Bearded Tits Gritting Season Gets Underway

Bearded Tits have started gritting early this year at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. The first birds on the grit trays  were reported on  the 15th with up to 9 by the 18th. This is two weeks earlier than in 2014 when the first birds were recorded on the 27th. Last September was warm with lots of insects around, this last week mornings  have been cold and insects seem scarce. Bearded Tits feed on insects in summer but change to reed seeds in autumn for which they need grit in their gizzard  to grind up the harder reed seeds. It appears as though the diet change is underway earlier this year.

Today several small groups were gritting on both the trays and the gravel  path. We got the colour ring combinations of 10 birds of which 8 were adults. A tendency for adults to grit first has been noted in previous years. All 8 adults had been recorded gritting on the trays last year.  Birds often grit in pairs for in Bearded Tits there is strong pair fidelity and young birds  appear to pair up early in life.
At the moment most sightings have been between 8.30 and 10.00  although today a pair were still on the trays at 12:15. The trays are located just off the Public Causeway.


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Disappointing Season Continues

Despite reasonable ringing weather our catches at Leighton Moss are down for most species.In our main study Bearded Tits, the catch of juveniles stands at 28 compared to 63 by the same time last year. But Blue Tits are reaching an all-time low with just 12 caught in the first half of September compared to 118 in the excellent productivity year of 2014. A visit to our woodland feeding station where Blue tits are usually the commonest species, we only caught 3 and both Great tit and Coal Tit exceeded them. Coal tits appear to have done well for at Leighton Moss we have ringed 18 in the first half of September compared to just 6 last year. Another mainly conifer breeding species Goldcrest is also doing well with 53 this September compared to 55 last year.

On a brighter note a visit to Jerry's Woodland edge garden produced a record catch of 9 Nuthatch. Kevin Briggs is starting a project on this species so we colour ringed all 9. Jerry has been recording the birds visiting his well stocked feeders and beside the 9 colour ringed birds he has seen a ringed only bird and two unringed together making a total of at least 12 visiting his feeders.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

A Dissapointing Season

As we approach the end of the warbler season its time to take stock of the ringing totals for this year in our study at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve.

Reed Warblers are our most abundant breeding bird but productivity this year has been exceptionally poor. We have caught to date only 245 juveniles compared with 885 last year and a five year average of 695. Early in the season Sedge Warblers, which are mainly a migrant here appeared to be doing reasonably well but numbers have dropped and to date we have only ringed 95 juveniles compared to 252 in 2014 and a five year average of 255. Willow warblers have done better with 262 caught compared to a five year average of 324. Blackcaps  have a five year average of 43 but this year has produced 25.

Of resident birds, Blue Tits are well down with only 106 juveniles compared to 376 in 2014 and a five year average of 269. Todays catch of 43 birds included only 1 Blue Tit this compares with an average catch  of 15 birds in early September last year.  Goldcrests though are doing better we caught 12 today to bring this year total to date to 42 compared with 52 for the whole year over the past  five years.

Our main study is Bearded Tits  which go very quiet as they moult in August .  Today we caught 2 bringing our total young to date to 27 again well down on previous years.


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Pied Flycatcher End of Term Report

We run a Pied Flycatcher RAS on our nest box  schemes in 12 upland woodlands in the Lune valley North Lancashire. This year saw a record population with 90 occupied boxes four  up on 2014. It was rather a mixed season with 51 successful nests compared to 77 in 2014. Two of the larger woods suffered predation of eggs and young probably by weasels. In one wood  only part of the wood was affected. In two woods, young died  about a  week after hatching suggesting a shortage of caterpillars. In one of these woods the four pairs nesting in the mature alder  part of the wood lost their broods but the one in the oak section  reared six young. Brood size overall was also down from 6.9 last year to 5.4 this year but we managed to ring  293 nestlings.
We re-trapped a total of 85 birds from previous year's ringing.  Of the 53 originally ringed as nestling in the valley,  15 returned to nest in their natal wood  and 27 moved to other woods within the Lune valley and 11  either moved outside the valley to breed or had been ringed as nestlings outside the valley. One of these had been ringed in a nestbox in Wales  242 km SSW. 
Of  adults  27 returned to breed in the same wood and just 5 moved to a new wood within the valley.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Poor Season Continues

July was a disappointing month  especially for Reed Warblers and Blue Tits August has continued in the same vain.  Reed Warbles  are having a very poor season at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. By this time last year we had ringed 635 juveniles,  this  year just 165 despite similar effort. Sedge Warblers are mainly passage birds here and a similar comparison  shows a  small increase,  87 in 2014 and 103 juveniles this year. Willow Warblers  have also done better with 193 last year and 201 this  year.

Blue Tits are down  from 132 in 2014 to 98 this year. Over the past five years in summer we have averaged 11% of adult Blue Tits in our catch. This year it has risen  to 30.5% suggesting very poor productivity which reflects what we found in our nest boxes.

To date we have only caught 3 adult Reed Warblers in August. they seem to have made an early  move out. A conclusion backed up by one adult that we caught on the 15th . It weighed in at 14.4 grams compared to the usual 10-11 grams. It had a fat score of 5 and was obviously preparing to leave.

Today we moved away from the reed bed to Jerry's well stocked woodland edge garden and caught 100 birds including 8 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. In past visits Blue Tits have been the commonest bird but today  Great Tits surpassed them .Of the 20 Blue Tits caught 13 were adults confirming the poor productivity this year.


Friday, 31 July 2015

A Disappointing July

July has been a rather disappointing month for our ringing studies at  Leighton Moss  especially our normally most ringed species, Reed Warbler . Because of the windy and at times wet weather we have only been able to ring on 13 days compared to an  average of 19 over the past 5 years. Inevitably this had led to lower total catches.

Our main study species Bearded Tit  is doing reasonably well with 8 adult males and 9 adult females identified so far and a total of 24 juveniles ringed to date. Past experience suggests that the total breeding population is around 13-15 pairs. the numbers of juveniles ringed to date suggest a late poor first brood but second brood birds are now appearing.

We also run a RAS  for Reed Warblers, to date we have caught 131 adults which given the decline in effort is around average. However productivity appears low to date.  The 5 year average for our catch of juveniles in July is 223, this year it is only 93.  The Sedge Warbler 5 year average is 74, this year we have caught only 30. Willow Warblers averaged 75  so allowing for the decline in effort this years catch of 58 juveniles is reasonable.  Blue Tits despite their poor productivity in our nest box schemes also  appear to be doing reasonably well with this years catch of 54 juveniles- 5 up on the five year average. Lets hope August brings both better weather and more birds.