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)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Woodpecker Morning

A stronger than forecast wind made us change locations from our reed bed site to the more sheltered woodland edge garden of Jerry and Barbara. Even here we could  set only two nets and the wind was not helpful but we caught 76 birds. The highlight was the catching of a record 10 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Taking the catch earlier in the week this was a total of at least 16  visiting the well provisioned feeders. This was made up of 3 adult  males, one adult female and 12 juveniles. In total all of last season in 15 visits from August to April we only caught 20 different birds so like many other species productivity appears to be good this year. We also had Green Woodpeckers regularly yaffling and were rewarded with several excellent views, but not near the nets unfortunately.

Other catches brought the total of Bullfinch over the two days to 23 which is three more than the whole of last season. Great Tits at 61 different birds is 24 behind last seasons totals. Blue tit at 52 compares with 153 last year. Again showing what a productive season it has been. Perhaps the most interesting catch was two each of House Sparrow and  Starling. Last season we only caught three House Sparrows and no Starlings!
John

Friday, 15 July 2016

A Nine Year Old Reed Warbler

The catching yesterday of Reed Warbler X091217 produced interesting findings. It had been first ringed 7 years 359 days previously  as an adult so it was at least 9 years old. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that it had not been retrapped since 2008 despite  our RAS study on Reed Warblers at Leighton Moss in which we catch around  160 adults each year, although there are probably 200+ Reed Warbler pairs breeding at Leighton. Our oldest ringed Reed Warbler was  9 years and 293 days after ringing as a juvenile. The national record is 13 years. Always intrigues me that Reed Warblers appear to live quite a bit longer than other warblers. Our record for Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat is 5+ years and Blackcap 4 years. Amazing  that yesterdays bird has made the trip to West Africa and back 9 times.

The highlight of the previous days ringing was the catching of  a Reed Warbler  with a Icona Madrid ring. This is only our fourth Reed Warbler from Spain.  It was extracted from the net by Javier who comes from Spain, we thought at first he was having us on until he produced the bird!
John

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

A Good Start to the Season

Paid our first visit of the season today to Jerry & Barbara's woodland edge garden as part of our colour ringed Nuthatch study. In total with only two nets set we caught 125 birds. Six were Nuthatch, of which 4 were juveniles and so were colour ringed. A total of  43 Great Tits and 31 Blue Tits almost all of which were juveniles, was further evidence that tits have had an excellent  season in our area. The 43 Great Tits compares with a total catch of 84 over last autumn and winter. Perhaps the most unexpected catch was  of 17 Bullfinch, again suggesting a good season. this compares with only 21 in total last season. Other highlights were 6 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Quite a morning and it certainly kept all four of us busy.

John

Monday, 4 July 2016

An Excellent Year for Nest Box Species

This has been an excellent breeding season for the three main specie nesting in the six nest box schemes that I record. After last years abysmal productivity, I expected  numbers to be down and this was the case in all species -Great Tit declined from 48 pairs to 41, Blue Tit from 50 to 45 and Pied Flycatcher from 26 pairs to 19.

Productivity though was excellent 88% of Great Tit nests were successful compared to just 49%in 2015. Blue tits were 83% compared to 49% and Pied Flycatcher 84% compared to 55%. In consequence  numbers fledged were well up as brood sizes were also larger. In total 202 Great Tits fledged compared to 108 in 2015,  Blue Tits 243 compared to 158 and Pied Flycatchers  97 compared to 39.

Obviously caterpillars must have been abundant at the right time with very few dead young in the nest. Also with broods being well fed they were not calling for food so  did not attract the attention of predators. Certainly lots of young tits around in the woods at the moment.

John

Monday, 27 June 2016

Our Nuthatch Study

I have reported several times about  our Nuthatch colour ringing study in Jerry and  Barbara's garden at Silverdale. Since September 2015 we have caught a total of 21 Nuthatch coming to their well provisioned feeders. The most birds they see at once  on the feeders is usually two.
Numbers recorded each month have varied a little with 12 in December and January, 13 in February and a peak of 15 different birds in March. We rather expected numbers to decline  in April but13 were recorded in April and 11 in May. These are minimal numbers as un-ringed birds have  seen throughout.
The May figure of 11 included 8 which were regular visitors suggesting four pairs breeding in the surrounding woodland with  three others visiting very occasionally possibly birds from further  afield tempted by the abundant fare in the feeders.
John

Sunday, 19 June 2016

An Excellent Breeding season

Judging by my nest boxes it has been an excellent breeding season. Tits have done well with  little predation and  only one  dead young in the 90 occupied boxes I have checked and brood size has been quite high.This week ends ringing produced 21 young Blue Tits  also the first young Reed Warbler and Willow Warblers, ten days earlier than last year. Of the 20 Pied Flycatcher nests two still have young to  ring and two were lost to predation. Of the others, brood size was good  averaging 6.8.
The other woods in our Pied Flycatcher RAS report similar findings although two have experienced heavy predation probably by weasels.

Over the next few months  will be working on our Bearded tit and Reed Warbler RAS. So far have caught 46 adult Reed Warbler and 16 adult Bearded Tits.
John

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Sand Martin Ringing On The River Lune


The Sand Martin ringing season is about to get underway. I have prepared an account of our activities at the colonies on the River Lune to  to to provide information to those landowners and farmers  who have kindly given members of the North Lancashire Ringing Group access to their land to undertake our studies. I thought I would share this on the Blog.

We carry out a census each year of the breeding colonies from Skerton Lancaster  to Kirkby Lonsdale by counting occupied nest holes. Over the past five years the population has ranged between 3026 pairs (2011) and 1309 (2014). We have 40 years of counts and historically the population has varied between 370 (1984) and the recent high of 3026 in 2011. It is  thought that these fluctuations are mainly due to drought conditions in their African wintering areas causing high mortality, but river floods during the breeding season and lack of suitable nesting banks have also played their part.
Since 2001 we have caught nearly 27,000 Sand Martins mainly at the Lune colonies. The recovery locality of those reported away from the Lune is shown in the table below. Around 99% of these are birds caught be other bird ringers and released both in Britain and abroad.
Recovery  Localities of Sand Martins Ringed on the River Lune 

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
 Dec

Senegal
1

2








3

Spain


1
3


1
3
4
4



France




4

6
31
9




South Coast






16
112
28




East Anglia



3

5
28
14





Midlands



1

3
15
10
1




Yorkshire





7
13
7
3




Scotland




1
3
6
1






The late summer migration is well shown with  first brood juveniles already in East Anglia and the Midlands in late June and on into July many of these are caught on migration ,roosting in colonies on their way south, until the colonies are vacated in early August then they roost in reed-beds or maize fields  with Swallows.  The recoveries from Scotland are mainly .of juveniles  caught roosting in our colonies on their way south. The speed of departure was well shown this year by-one of the few birds we have ringed as a nestling. It probably left the nest about the 18th of June but it was caught27 days later in Northern France a distance of 493 km SE, certainly a quick mover.  By . July many birds are along the south coast and into France, a movement that continues throughout July and reaches a peak in August then on to early September with adults and second brood youngsters joining in. August is the peak month for passage through western France and on into  Spain. Smaller numbers occur in France in September with none at all in October by which time they have moved in to Eastern Spain to eventually reach their wintering areas in West  Africa where we have six recoveries from Senegal.
Spring migration is not well documented as  little ringing takes place, also birds are moving through quickly and return to the  colonies where  ringing is not attempted to avoid disturbance at this critical time. Returns from Spain and France suggest a similar route to autumn.

John