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)

Monday, 20 May 2019

Pied Flycatchers in Potts Wood

Following on from John's post, I paid my first trip to the nest boxes in Pott Yeats, Littledale today.  There are 43 boxes there that have held small numbers of Pied Flycatchers in recent years, 2018 was typical with 5 pairs all successful.  Today nine nests were found with eggs in all and females incubating in three of them (One nest contained 10 warm eggs).

Two further Redstart nests were found with incubating females in place.  Interestingly, both nests were in boxes with ‘normal’ circular entrance holes.  The small number of boxes with ‘shuttlecock’ shaped holes intended for Redstarts have never attracted any of that species over the last few years but one of this year’s Pied Flycatchers has occupied  a ‘shuttlecock’ box.

Blue Tit and Great Tit numbers this year so far are about average. 

Monday, 13 May 2019

Pied Flycatcher Study gets Underway

With a couple of visits to most of our woodland sites in the Lune valley we are getting first impressions of this years Pied Flycatcher population. Last year we had 108 pairs in nest boxes in our 16 woods providing a RAS study. First impressions are that population are similar or in  5 cases slightly up on last year and it is still early days. The one exception has been our 12 nest boxes in a mainly alder wood. There has been clear felling of larch right next to the site and two boxes right next to the conifers in Oak which have always been occupied by Pied Flycatchers were empty this week but a male was singing close by. In some other years we have had a second later arrival, so lets hope. Similar on a visit today to the site with the smallest population there were two females incubating and a male singing round empty nest boxes.

First impression for other nest box species is that Great Tits are about normal but Blue Tits are well down. Both species have broods hatching and appear to be doing well but the next two weeks will reveal all.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Birds on the Move

It appears to be an early spring with both Reed Warbler and Pied Flycatcher  for example arriving very early. Our ringing has shown some quick  movement in Lesser Redpolls. One ringed in a Cheshire garden on March 24th was caught at a feeder five days later on the edge of Bowland , 51 km north. Another ringed at the same feeder on March 30 was in southern Scotland ten days later a distance of 218 km north west.

Waders are massing along the edge of Morecambe Bay waiting for good weather to make the journey to Iceland. Careful searching of the 3000+ Black-tailed Godwits on the Eric Morecambe Pools at Leighton Moss has revealed at least seven birds originally colour ringed  in the breeding season in Iceland.

Searching of the large numbers of Knot roosting at high tide on the Lune  Estuary has produced at at least six Knot originally colour ringed in Iceland.Today's cold ESE wind means they will probably wait for a change in the weather before setting off on their epic journey.

Other interesting recoveries have included a Chiffchaff  caught on Alderney on the Channel Islands on March 21st from our September ringing and a juvenile Cetti's Warbler ringed in South Yorkshire in early July and caught in late March at Leighton Moss, 134 km north west.


Saturday, 23 March 2019

Black-tailed Godwit Update

Today there was at least 2300 Godwits on the Eric Morecambe Complex on the edge  of Morecambe Bay. But with high spring tides most were on the flooded salt marsh. During the first half of March we have sighted  five colour ringed birds.  One from the Montrose Basin, two from the Humber, one from Kent and one from Iceland.  

The Icelandic one is the oldest and the most interesting with 102 sightings since it was ringed  as an adult male in Iceland in July 2011 . It has wintered on the Dee estuary every year since. In April 2013 it was sighted in North Holland. From  2014 it has established  a pattern of calling in at Morecambe Bay on the Eric Morecambe Complex in late March and April. This year though it was seen on 23rd February its earliest record and is still there gradually getting its summer plumage. Surprisingly it has never been seen again in Iceland.

Over the years we have recorded ca 70 Icelandic ringed Godwits in Morecambe Bay mainly in spring but at least 17 have been recorded in autumn. Some have  wintered as far south as SW France, others in Hampshire and Se Ireland, but the bulk winter on the Dee



Thursday, 28 February 2019

Godwit arrival dates

Black-tailed Godwit have started arriving in reasonable numbers at Leighton Moss in recent days.  Several of these have long histories of spring sightings at Leighton and other very local sites having spent the winter further south on the Dee.  Two are of note with several years of good arrival data for Leighton Moss.  The first seen date is listed below for each year they have been seen at Leighton:







It would be very easy to say 'global warming' or 'unseasonably hot weather' is driving the early arrival date however I think it's more complex.  This winter has been fairly dry and many of the sites used early in spring by these birds (Lytham Hall, fields on the field) are only good feeding in wet conditions so maybe the early arrival is more a case of lack of good feeding throughout the tidal cycle rather than an early migration north.

Thanks to all the observers at Leighton Moss for seeing and reporting these birds to the ringers (in this case in Iceland).  The arrival and departure dates are really useful so even if the bird was seen yesterday reporting it again is important to understand how the Godwit use different landscapes in a changing world.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Our Nuthatch Study

We have continued our colour ringed study of Nuthatch visiting Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden at Silverdale. They usually see no more than two birds visiting their feeders at once but since late summer 2018 we have seen or caught 19 birds. In January at least 11 different birds have visited the feeders. They basically fall into three categories based on our sightings.

There is obviously a resident pair which have each been seen 14 days,very often together. Three other birds have been seen less often but still regularly  probably from adjoining territories close by. But the remaining six are only infrequent visitors only being recorded once or twice a month but obviously attracted by the abundance of bird food on offer. One assumes that they have territories some distance away in the surrounding woodland.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

End of Year Summary

 With almost all the data in for the year we have ringed  10750 new birds, although with retraps and sightings we have details of almost 14000 captures.Top of the pile as usual is Blue Tit with 2263 followed by Goldfinch at 1059 and Pied Flycatcher at 773. Of the warblers,  Willow Warbler was top with 584 followed by Reed Warbler at 577, Sedge Warbler at  247,Chiffchaff at 225 and Blackcap at 216.

Our  colour ringed studies of the  Nuthatch and Bearded Tit produced 415 and 150 sightings and furthered our knowledge of the behaviour of these two resident species. Our other colour ringed studies of Grey Wagtail produced sightings in Shropshire and Conwy in early spring and Hampshire in winter.While Common Sandpiper sightings were from Herts, Lincoln and Surrey all on their way south in late summer

Recovery highlights included a Robin  ringed  in early March in the Highland Region  and caught at Middleton on May 1st- a time you would expect Robins to be moving north. A Blackbird in Norway in late March was our sixth from Norway, but a first for Norway was a Brambling ,ringed 30 September and caught 33 days later at Newton. Although we ringed twice as many Reed as Sedge Warblers we had only one foreign recovery  in Spain, but three Sedge Warblers in France  and one in Belgium. Interesting that this brings our Sedge Warblers from France to 54 but only three in Spain. By contrast  29 Reed Warbler have been found in France but 5 in Spain. The groups all-time totals for Reed Warbler is 20.450, 6000 more than Sedge Warbler.

Colour ring sightings of birds ringed elsewhere has  generated more interesting recoveries. We sighted no fewer than five colour ringed Avocets  in the small colony at Leighton Moss. A  French ringed nestling ringed ten year ago has bred here for the past six years. A nestling ringed in The Netherlands in 2016  bred this year as did two reared  in Teesmouth and one in South Yorkshire.

Mediterranean Gulls mainly at the power station outflow at Heysham came from Germany (2), France, The Netherlands and Poland (2) all  except one Polish bird were  colour ringed as nestlings. The French bird is now in its tenth year.