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, 16 March 2015

Grey Wagtail Ringing

Grey Wagtails are a regular diurnal migrant in comparative small numbers  through North Lancashire from mid August to late October. They have been specially studied  at our ringing sites of Heysham and Middleton Nature Reserves resulting in the catching  and individually colour ringing of almost 400 birds.Interestingly all except one have been juveniles and we have only ever had two retraps.

Although 10 birds have been reported locally in winter there has been significant southerly movement with 4 autumn sightings in the Merseyside/Gt. Manchester area and one at Skokholm  in South Wales. Winter  sightings have been in Cheshire, Wolverhampton and Wiltshire .

There has only been two sightings during the breeding season both in South Cumbria so we have contacted as many people and organizations as possible who visit rivers to check any Grey Wagtails they see for colour rings. Ann  Ord Sykes's great photograph below shows the position of the rings. The  colour ring combinations are detailed below

LEFT LEG - a combination of RED and  BTO METAL  ring (please note which way round)
RIGHT LEGTWO COLOURS – please note which way round and (with blue and green) whether a light or dark colour.

 Please contact or text 07532433043 as soon as possible after the sighting. Thanks

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Recoveries Bonanza

A recent batch of 62 recoveries from the BTO brought some interesting info, all except 4 were of birds re-trapped by other ringers. We had reports of 9 Sand Martins from France bringing the total we have had reported on migration through France to 55. A juvenile ringed at the Lune colonies on 15 July was reported 933 km to the south 24 days later. Three Reed Warbler were also reported in France bringing the group’s total  from France to 30. One of them was 6 years old when re-trapped. More unusual  was a Reed Warbler from Belgium bringing our total from there to 5. Intrigues me that they cross the North Sea so early in their migration south. Four Sedge Warblers from France on southerly migration  brings the Group’s total in France to 50. The recoveries also  included details  of re-sightings of Belgium and Czech Republic Mediterranean Gulls which regularly winter here. The Czech bird is in its 12th year.

Quite a few of the recoveries were of birds that we usually think of as residents or at best short  distance partial migrants. Pride of place must go to 2 Long-tailed Tits ringed from a  group of 5 on 11th October and caught 36 days later 69 km  south in Cheshire. We have many retraps and recoveries suggesting this species rarely wanders more than 15 kms, but obviously some do occasionally. In 1993 we had 2 birds which moved 306 km north in just 19days. A juvenile Cetti’s Warbler ringed in mid-July near Wakefield was caught at Middleton 106 kms WNW  and 68 days later. Goldfinch have become common garden feeding birds in recent year. One ringed at feeder on 5th December 2011 was caught in January 2015 264 km  W in Co Tyrone Northern Ireland. A Bearded Tit ringed as a nestling this year and colour ringed as a juvenile was sighted in early October 30 km WSW , only the third Bearded Tit in recent years to have moved away from Leighton RSPB  Reserve. Finally a Greenfinch ringed October 2nd was found freshly dead 128 km  NW 20 days later.


Friday, 23 January 2015

Garden Ringing

We have made four visits this autumn and winter to Jerry and Barbara's garden on the edge of Silverdale. It is ideally situated on the edge of a large block of woodland and very well provided with a variety of  feeders. Using just two nets we have caught 307 birds of these 34 were retraps so involved 273 different individuals over the four visits.

The woodland setting is reflected in the species caught with 99 Blue Tits, 32 Great Tits, 32 Coal Tits, 6 Marsh Tits, 5 Nuthatch and 7 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Surprisingly also 13 Dunnock and 8 Robins. These figures  are for the total individual birds. Jerry tells me that when doing Garden Bird Watch the most Blue Tits they have seen at once is just 8 along with 6 each of Coal and Great Tits but our ringing gives some idea off the numbers visiting their well stocked feeders.

Several of the retraps show movements between our other ringing sites in the area. Outstanding is a Blue Tit ringed 2 km  away at Leighon  Moss and re-trapped  7 years and 177 later. It had not been re-trapped in the intervening period.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

2014 A Record Year

With most returns for 2014 now in it has been a record year for the group with  16151 new birds ringed (12982 fully grown  & 3169 nestlings.) This is 3600 up on  2013. Certainly better ringing weather has helped but the warmer drier weather appears to have been produced excellent productivity in many of our regularly ringed species.

Our ringing during the spring and summer focuses  around our four RAS projects and two CES plots. With low water levels on the River Lune Sand Martin colonies we ringed 1424 new birds and recorded 419 retraps and 19 controls including 6 with French rings on. Pied Flycatchers had a good year with 86 occupied nest boxes of which 77 successfully reared young and we ringed 534 nestlings and caught 82 adults as part of our RAS study. At Leighton Moss Reed Warblers also had a good year with 988 new birds and 252 retraps. It was the second best year for  juveniles ringed in the 17 years of our study being only exceeded by 9 in 2003. Continuing the same theme Bearded Tits had a much better season with 70 juveniles caught compared to just 48 in 2013 and only 17 in 2012.

Almost all our regularly ringed species were well up this year examples compared with the five year average include 437 Chiffchaff's a 150 % increase. Whitethroat with 229 an 120% increase. We ringed 285 Blackcaps representing a 178 % increase on the 5 year average. Residents did well also Robins at 377 was 110% up and Wrens at 233 was almost double the 5 year average.
What will 2015 bring?


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Some Quick Recoveries

With the weather set in an anti-ringing mood, it was great to get an interesting batch of recoveries, most of them from ringing earlier in the year.

Two juvenile Sedge Warblers retrapped in Wiltshire and Rutland  both  just nine days after ringing in August, re-enforces many other similar recoveries in past years, suggesting that the Sedge Warblers we ring are mainly passage birds moving through our area quite quickly.

A juvenile Whitethroat was caught on the same day and at the same locality in Wiltshire as one of the Sedge Warblers.  It was caught 23 days after ringing in early August. This is only our fourth Whitethroat from the south of England. Single Willow Warbler and two Chiffchaff were also intercepted in the south  of England. The Chiffchaffs were consecutive ring numbers both were ringed on 2nd October one was caught 5 days later 304 km south in Berkshire and the other 10 days later in Dorset

Two juvenile Reed Warblers from July ringing were caught at the same locality in thePyrenees-Altantiques department right in the south west corner of France. One was 25 and the other 37 days after ringing. These two brings our total of Reed Warblers from  France to 27.

Reed Bunting have been present in good numbers this autumn. One ringed on 3rd  September was caught 27 days later in Dorset. It is our third Reed Bunting from the south coast.

A Bearded Tit ringed as a nestling in April and retrapped in June and August and sighted on the grit trays on 28the September was sighted 12 days later in a very small reedbed at South Walney NR. This is only our third recorded movement  away from Leighton Moss RSPB since 1980 despite ringing 2100. Eruptive behavior has been recorded on three occasions this autumn, but on all occasions the birds were seen to drop back into the reedbeds. But at least one moved out.

Finally a colour ringed Greenshank sighted on the wader pools on 26th to 29th June had been ringed as an adult 22 days previously at Tongue in the Highlands. this is our second  colour ringed Greenshank from this area.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

More Recoveries & Bearded Tit Update

A new batch of recoveries confirming  known movements but with a few surprises. A Sedge Warbler to Devon 15 days after ringing brought  our total from Devon to six. Another from Dorset was our 21st from this county. The surprise was our first Sedge Warbler from Durham ringed on13th September 15 days later it was 88 km to the NE and going in the wrong direction! A case of reverse migration? We have had  at  least five other similar northerly movements in times past.

 Juvenile Reed Warblers were reported from Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex. This makes 6 from   Dorset, 8 from Hampshire and 47 from Sussex from past ringing. A juvenile Sand Martin from Dumfries ringed in a colony on June  16th and caught at one of our colonies on the River Lune 15 days later, showing how early they move and join other colonies probably for roosting on their way south. Another early mover was a Willow Warbler ringed on 23rd June and caught 214 kms south on 28th July. A Lesser Redpoll  ringed on April 6th was caught  in Dumfries 12 days later.

This week we have caught six  new Bearded  Tits at Leighton Moss RSPB to bring our total of new ringed birds for the year to 69 compared to 48 in 2013 and just 17 in 2012. Judging from the undeveloped colours of  their iris four at least were from late broods. Activity on the gritting trays is running down as usual by early December but a pair seen there this week had been ringed together in June and have been recorded together on six occasions since, confirming the early pair formation of juvenile Bearded Tits.

Friday, 21 November 2014

A Bumper Year

With some submissions yet to come in the group has just passed 15,000 new birds ringed which is almost 4000 more that the average for the last five years. With ringing effort being roughly the same this suggests excellent productivity for both residents and migrants. The table below compares the 2014 catch with the five year average for species ringed regularly in good numbers.

Species                   5 Year Average        2014 catch
Chiffchaff                      185                       462
Willow Warbler             434                       585
Whitethroat                    116                       257
Lesser Whitethroat          46                         71
Blackcap                        109                       300
Reed Warbler               1010                     1300
Sedge Warbler               416                       410
Goldcrest                       129                       211
Robin                             132                      326
Grey Wagtail                   49                      162
Wren                              134                      258
Reed Bunting                196                       364

Of these 13 species only Sedge Warbler has not shown any increase. The fact that both migrants and residents have increased suggests excellent productivity and survival no doubt due to the good warm weather especially later in the breeding season. In the case of residents last winters mild weather also helped.