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, 1 March 2017

Goldcrest Movements

Two recent Goldcrest recoveries show how much they are moving around in winter. Both were ringed in our area in early October when there was a marked movement of Goldcrests and both were retrapped in mid December. The first went 137 km east into Yorkshire,while the other went 330 km. SSE to Greater London.

The Group has 37 Goldcrest recoveries and the one showing movement east into Yorkshire at this time of year is a first. The other is more usual for we have eight recoveries showing movement to south east England or along the south coast. the fastest was one ringed on October 1st and caught 12 days later 354 km. south in Hampshire.

The recoveries show that these birds could be continental breeders for we have reports of autumn ringed birds in Norway and Denmark but we also have two caught in the breeding season in North Scotland.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Latest Recoveries

Recovery News
On a visit to southern Portugal in January I was amazed at the numbers of Chiffchaff wintering there. They were the commonest bird in many areas. I felt that some of our breeding birds must be among them. On my return we got news of a juvenile ringed at Heysham in early July and caught in early December in Central Portugal. This is our first Chiffchaff from Portugal but we have others in winter from Morocco and Senegal. Another first was a Willow Warbler on Alderney Channel Islands in early August 34 days after ringing at Heysham. Two Sand Martins ringed on the Lune were retrapped In France, one juvenile just 29 days after ringing, bringing our total for Sand Martins from France to 56. Another French recovery was of a Sedge Warbler our 51st from Western France.
A colour ringed Waxwing, part of this winter’s influx was sighted in Lancaster. It had been ringed just 21 days previously near Aberdeen, showing how they have moved through the country searching for berries. A sighting north of Kendal showed a similar quick movement. In the last major influx in 2010 we had three similar movements one seen at Leighton Moss on 14th December was sighted in Cambridge 10 days later showing how quickly they move through in search of berries.

Monday, 30 January 2017

A Successful Year for the Group

2016 was quite a successful year for the group. We handled 17,302 birds made up of 10,843 full grown, 1,746 nestlings and 4,713 retraps or sightings involving 83 species. This is 2544 up on 2015.We hope to shortly publish our annual report online, but this short report gives details of some of the features of our ringing in 2016.

The only species to be ringed for the first time was Long-eared Owl, caught while working a Swallow roost at Middleton. Stuart's outings on dark nights dazzling for Woodcock produced 15 but also 5 Jack Snipe and a Short-eared Owl.It was a good year for Great Spotted Woodpeckers with 41 ringed compared to our best previous catch of 23. Mark did extremely well with Tree Pipits catching 32 compared to just 11 in 2015. Meadow Pipits at 688 ere well up on the 194 in 2015 and was the second highest annual total. Redwing(458) and Fieldfare (52) were our highest annual totals for both species.Sedge Warblers (245)continued their downward spiral of recent years in the mid 2000's we were ringing 7-800, but it was our best year in recent years for Whitethroat at 196.

We shared in the Yellow-browed Warbler bonanza with 11 ringed, bringing the Groups all-time numbers to 26. The775 Willow Warblers was our best annual catch since 1976! Finches have featured in recent years. This year Goldfinch (1055) and Siskin (632) were both records but Lesser Redpolls (488)were down somewhat with a smaller than usual autumn passage.Finally the highest re-trapped species was Nuthatch with 1021 mainly re-sightings by Jerry and Barbara as part of our study on this species.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A Record Breaking Marsh Tit

The highlight of a one net experimental session in a fallen apple strewn orchard was the catching of 4 Marsh Tits. One had been ringed just 150 m. away, 8 years and 163 days ago making it a group record for longevity, beating the previous one by 160 days but still well behind the national record of 11 years and 92 days.

The groups record for Blue Tits is 8 years and 15 days, behind Marsh Tit despite ringing nearly 39000 Blue Tits but only 540 Marsh Tits! Great Tit comes in at 11 years 97 days a national record. The Group holds another national record with a Bearded Tit at 7 years 42 days.

The other interesting news is the sighting by Javier of a colour ringed Waxwing in Lancaster which had been ringed just 20 days previously by the Grampian Ringing Group at Ballater Deeside Aberdeenshire. Part of the drift south of this winter visitor.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Nuthatch Colour Ringing study

We started the study in September 2015 . The main focus is Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden at Silverdale. To date we have ringed 29 Nuthatches in their garden.Only 2 and very occasionally three birds are ever seen at once in the garden. Just got the colour ring sightings for November. These total 107 sightings recorded over 27 days and involve 11 different birds plus at least one un-ringed bird. Five are birds ringed for the first time this late summer /autumn including two originally ringed as nestlings in the same nest box ca 3 km away.

One bird, white/blue has been recorded on 26 days this November. Birds seem to fall into two groups those that visit regularly with two other birds recorded on 18 and 19 days and two on 11 days, and those that visit only infrequently, usually under five days.

We have spent a morning ringing on two occasions each month and it is fascinating to compare the survival rates from colour ring sightings and from retraps in mist nets. Of 16 birds colour ringed in August/September 2015 no fewer than 11(69%)have been re-sighted a year later, but only 2 (12.5%) have been re-trapped. Shows the value of colour ringing and of course the value of dedicated re-sighting.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bearded Tit Gritting Season Draws to A Close

The last few days have seen very little activity on the gritting trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. From September 23rd to November 27th we have recorded a total of 307 sightings of colour ringed birds involving 64 different individuals. Of these 36 were adult birds and 28 this years young.
We don't record every day but we have some interesting statistics on the number of visits birds make to the trays.Sixteen have been recorded on only one day. At the other end of the scale the most recorded bird was a juvenile female which visited on 15 days visiting first on September 30 and last on November 27th.
At each visit the birds sort through the grit which is mainly builders sharp sand. They can stop on the trays for up to 10-15 minutes and they appear to swallow regularly. This is in line with some research in Germany where they found an average of 609 small stones and a maximum of 850 stones in the gizzard in early winter when they are feeding mainly on reed seeds, but only 38 in spring when they turn to invertebrates.
One question I am often asked- Does this consumption of grit increase the birds weight. I looked at the weights of birds we have caught and weighed this year. In July the average weight of 22 birds was 14.1 gms. in October the average weigh of 40 birds was 15.2 and of 22 birds in November it was 15.7. So they have certainly increased their weight by around a gram and a half.Would need a much larger sample and a statistical test to prove the increase. But its interesting and does at first sight suggest that taking grit may well play a part in the increase.We have checked birds for any fat and there is very little.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Bearded Tits Still Gritting

Gritting continues especially on cold mornings. On Monday I recorded 14 different birds including 10 at once spread across the three grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Difficult with so many birds present to work out pairings, all your attention goes into recording the colour ring combinations. They performed for ca ten minutes for an audience of 12 delighted birders, some who had never seen bearded Tits before. To date we have recorded 298 sightings of colour ringed birds involving 61 different birds. Of these 34 were adults and 27 birds hatched this year.Of the 61 35 were males and 26 females.

Yesterday though there were just four birds present, two apparent pairs. They gritted as pairs on separate trays. If any of the other pair attempted to join the other pair they were chased off.On checking their records I found they further proved what we have recorded on many occasions that Bearded Tits form pairs in their first autumn and if they survive they stay together through the year.

The first pair were hatched in spring 2015. They were first recorded together on 26th September and were recorded together on 5 occasions on the grit trays in October and November that year. This year they have been recorded together, either retrapped or sighted on the grit trays on 11 occasions.

The other pair were recorded together on seven occasions from late September to November in 2015.They we caught together on June 6th this year and have been recorded together on five occasions this October/November.

Very few other species form pairs early in life or remain together in successive winters.