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, 4 November 2019

Bearded Tit RAS Update

Its been a rather difficult season for our study. Late season ringing has been impossible because of high water levels which flooded all the access paths at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve making out  boardwalks dangerous  to use. However the high water levels meant that the Bearded Tits had to get their grit,(which they need at this time of year as they move from  insects  to a rmainly reed seed diet) from our  specially prepared grit trays. So far we have  had 113 sightings of colour  ringed birds mainly on the trays and almost all of them were adults  from previous  years.

In total we have identified 24 adult males and 13 adult females. This compares with 23 males and 14 females in 2018.  We invariably get more males than females,partly because males are easier to mist net and also  males have a somewhat better survival rate than females.

Of the 37 adults, the oldest was  five years, one was four years, three  were three years old, 12 two years and 20, one year after ringing as juveniles. This gives a crude survival rate of 46%. But we may yet identify one or two more . We have a motion activated video of one set of trays yet to check through.

Since the water levels have dropped, exposing the visitor paths the reserve staff have topped up  some of the paths with fine limestone and some birds have been gritting here . This means that colour rings are more difficult to  record.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

A Chaffinch in Sweden and a Sedge Warbler in France

 Although we have ringed 9620 Chaffinch up to the end of 2018 we have just  had our first recovery in southern Sweden. It was caught by a ringer on 4th April this year and was originally ringed  at a garden feeder on 26th November 2016. It had travelled 1129 kms ENE. Our only other foreign recoveries of Chaffinch have been singles in Norway and The Netherlands.
By contrast we have ringed 14,117 Sedge Warblers and the latest recovery in SW France in August is our 55th Sedge Warbler from France, of these 39 have been in August, almost all caught by ringers. We have had three from Spain,one from Portugal, seven in Belgium and one in Luxembourg all on migration usually in late summer/autumn. Our only recovery in winter is one from Senegal West Africa in December.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Garden Ringing update

Paid our third visit this summer to Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden in Silverdale. With only one 40 ft net we caught 80 birds. Our main interest in this garden is a colour ring study of Nuthatch, so we were pleased to catch two unringed young birds which brings the total so far seen in the garden since the end of June to twelve.Since we started this study in 2015 we have amassed 2402 sightings.

Blue and Great Tits seem to have done well with 56 and 23 respectively, almost all juveniles. Coal tits though at only four are low. This species breeds locally in only small numbers and our ringing has shown that many of our birds come from Lakeland so will be interesting to see if numbers pick up at our next visits.

The most surprising species was Bullfinch with 22 caught so far this summer. This compares with just 21 in the period July to March last year. Even more interesting is that we have caught only four juveniles. On this last visit we caught six adult males all just starting to moult. Perhaps the juveniles have not discovered this easy source of food yet.


Sunday, 4 August 2019

Reed Warbler & Bearded Tit RAS Update

The last two days has seen two good catches to bolster our returns for our Bearded Tit and Reed Warbler RAS at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve.

A male Bearded Tit first ringed as a juvenile  in 2014 was retrapped five years and 50 days after ringing. This is our second oldest Bearded Tit ,(the oldest was seven years and 93 days). Interestingly this bird had been sighted ten times on the grit tray between 2014 and 2016. It was retrapped in 2017 but not recorded at all in 2018 so it was  great to catch up with it again. To date we have identified 10 adults but it is early days as we get most sightings from the grit trays late September to December.

In the two sessions we caught 55 Reed Warblers, mainly juveniles suggesting a good breeding season. But the most interesting was an adult male first ringed as a juvenile in June 2011 , eight years and 43 days ago. Interestingly it has been retrapped most years since in the same area of the reed bed but on 28th July 2018 it was caught on the south coast at Titchfield Haven Hampshire on its way to the African wintering grounds. It was a bit late setting off this year, but it was getting ready  for it had a fat score of two.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Another Record Pied Flycatcher Season

Now got all the results in for our Pied Flycatcher  RAS based in 20 upland woods in the Lune Valley. We had 104 occupied nest boxes four  down on 2018 but success rate was better  with 79 producing young compared to 68 last year. Predation was as usual patchy with one wood losing all its young probably to a weasel while other woods  had a 90%+ success rate

The Group also has other boxes in the Bowland area and in total we recorded 1020 handling made up of 821 nestlings 82 new adults and 117 retraps. This is 195 up on 2018.

Retraps followed the usual pattern with a few ringed as nestlings returning to their native wood ,  but most moving to other woods within the  Lune valley or Bowland. While adults generally stayed faithful to the same wood each year.

We do though get birds ringed as nestlings  elsewhere breeding in our area with  two from North Yorkshire and one from Durham this year. But most surprising was one ringed as a  nestling near Swansea South Wales in 2016. It was  found as a breeding female in the Lune valley  this year ,a movement of 275 km


Friday, 31 May 2019

A Pied Flycatcher First

Over the years our Group has ringed 11,557 Pied Flycatchers mainly as part of our RAS in the Lune Valley. We have had many recoveries and controls but a recent recovery was our first on spring migration in Britain. It had been ringed as a nestling in June last year and was caught on 21st April this year at Eccles -on-Sea Norfolk 315 km.ESE.It was a male.

Our only other spring report away from the breeding area was one caught in the Netherlands on May 5th 1991. Amazingly this bird was found nesting in Denmark the following June. I suppose the reason for so few spring recoveries is that   the spring movement is so quick. It  will be interesting to see if the bird caught in Norfolk turns up in our nest boxes in the RAS study. We are just starting to to ring nestlings and catch males. To date they have done well with good sized broods but the recent cold wet weather may not have helped.

A Cetti's Warbler we ringed as a juvenile in September was caught in May in Merseyside . This is the third Cetti's to move south after ringing, the most amazing one was ringed in March 2010 and caught just over a year later in Farlington Marsh Hampshire 389 km SSE.

Another interesting movement was  a colour ringed Grey Wagtail from our study at Heysham and Middleton. It was breeding in East Lancashire to the 51 km SE  of our autumn  ringing site. The third record  we have had of birds to the SE of our passage ringing site. Thanks to Craig Bell for the photo.


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.