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)

Friday, 13 November 2015

Goldcrest and Lesser Redpoll Movements

Two species that have been present  our area this autumn in good numbers are Lesser Redpoll and Goldcrests. The later is probably a reflection of the large arrival of continental birds recorded on the east coast. That this was the case  was signaled by the catching of one at Leighton Moss on October 23 which had been ringed 11 days previously  at Whitby North Yorkshire. One ringed on spring migration at Heysham was caught at  Spurn on October 9th. Another bird ringed in mid winter in Somerset was caught at Heysham on October 4th was also probably a continental bird

Another migrant was a Lesser Redpoll ringed in Aberdeenshire on 28th September was caught at Leighton Moss 17 days later. This is our first Redpoll from NE Scotland. A Redpoll ringed in mid winter in Surrey was  caught on August 7th at Newton. This is our 13th bird in winter from Surrey which is obviously a prime wintering area for passage and breeding birds from our area.   We also caught 2 birds from Northumberland and one from Worcester.

A Siskin ringed at Newton on the edge of Bowland on 22 September was caught 39 days later in Hampshire only our second Siskin from that area.


Sunday, 25 October 2015

How Many Nuthatch Visit A Garden?

This autumn's ringing in Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden at Silverdale has thrown up some interesting findings. With well stocked feeders close to the house they can easily observe all the visiting birds. The most Nuthatch's they usually see is three at once occasionally, but usually just two. Kevin Briggs  has started a RAS on Nuthatch this year with a colour ringing scheme. Since mid September we have  colour ringed 11 Nuthatch in the garden. Over this past week Barbara has seen nine of these birds visiting regularly . She has also seen two unringed birds together and a ringed but not colour ringed bird making12  birds visiting regularly  and  two others occasionally making at least 14 birds in all. Will be interesting to see  what happens over the  winter and into spring. Last spring one pair nested in the garden.

The  abundance of Coal tits this autumn is well shown by our latest catch in the garden we caught  19 but the scarcity of Blue Tits is shown by  a catch of only 13. Last year a little later we caught 29 Blue Tits and 19 Coal Tits. The scarcity of Blue Tits following a disastrous breeding season is being commented on by many observers.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Cetti's on the Move

Cetti's Warbler  has only recently colonised our area.  We first ringed one in 1995 then singles in 2007 & 08. But from 2009 on  we averaged 5 or 6 annually until last year we ringed 16. To date we have only caught 39 birds but we have had two recoveries and recaptured 2 birds ringed elsewhere.
The most outstanding of these is shown on the map it was ringed at Leighton RSPB on March 13th 2010 and  found breeding at Farlington Marsh Hampshire on 25th April 2011 and again on several dates over the next two years. It is one of the longest distance recoveries within Britain.

Our most recent recovery is  as interesting, it was ringed at Wood Walton Fen  Cambridgeshire  on September 2nd 2015 and caught at Leighton Moss 259 km NW 38 days later. Last years control was similar -ringed at Wintersett Reservoir in West Yorkshire and caught 68 days 106 km WNW at Middleton. The other  also showed a similar movement, ringed at Leighton on 4th November 2014 and caught 164 days later at Woolston Eyes in Cheshire.

All  these movements are part of the dispersive tendency of young birds in this species which has contributed to the spread of the species in Britain. Once established as a breeder they appear to be  sedentary- we have had retraps of two birds 3 and 4 years after ringing at Leighton Moss.

Monday, 12 October 2015

An Interesting Autumn at Leighton Moss

So far with  decent ringing weather this autumn has produced some interesting results. Pride of place goes to Lesser Redpoll with 161 ringed so far compared with just 50 in the whole of autumn 2014. To date we have had only 2 re-traps and one control suggesting a migratory population.
 The Bearded Tit gritting season is well under way. Thanks mainly to the dedication of Alan,Pauline and Judith Gallagher we have logged 130 sightings of our colour ringed birds involving 48 different birds. Of these 33 were adults and 15 birds of the year. For adults to grit earlier than juveniles is usual. To date though we have recorded only 1 un-ringed bird. the most interesting sighting is of male blue over yellow on  the left leg and yellow over BTO on the right leg. This bird was ringed as a nestling at Leighton on 14 April 2014. It was last re-trapped there on 28 September  and 16 days later it was sighted in a small area of reeds at South Walney 30 km SSW but on 9th October this year it was on the Leighton grit trays.
Regular ringing over the years certainly gives a good idea of the productivity and population levels. Two species doing well this year are Goldcrest and Wren. To date we have ringed 115 Goldcrest compared to 77 over the same period last year. Wren  totals are 105 this year and 98  last. By complete contrast Blue Tits were 440 last year but only 193 this year.

The Reserve's most recent colonist is Cetti's Warbler with ca 5 singing males this year . To date we have caught 8 including a control from elsewhere compared with 7 last year. We  had only our 2nd ever Yellow-browed Warbler this weekend just to add some spice.

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.