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 May 2015

A Pied Flycatcher Bonanza

With our  some of our first two visits to our nest box schemes in woodlands by the tributaries of the Lune now completed it is turning out to be an amazing year for Pied Flycatchers. We run an RAS scheme spread over 11 woods, last year we recorded 86 pairs. First returns suggest that we could well exceed a hundred pairs this year.  Typical of this year  are the following numbers of occupied boxes in a surveyed woodland.                               
                                                 7 pairs 2014 - 14 so far this year
                                                 3    "        "        8   "        "
                                                 2    "        "        5   "        "
                                                 2    "        "        6   "        "
We still need the details from some of the larger woods but first reports suggest a similar increase. When we start to catch the adults it will be interesting to see if the increase is due to good survival of adults or of good numbers  of last years young returning or of course a combination of both.

Over the years the Group has ringed 9085 Pied Flys. Birds ringed as breeding adults manly return to the same wood but 15% moved within the Lune Valley and a very few move further afield. Only 3.9% of birds ringed as nestlings  are traced again. Of the returning birds 34% breed in their natal wood, 50% moved elsewhere in the Lune Valley and 16% move further afield to northern England south west  Scotland and Wales . One though was found nesting in western Germany and another caught on spring passage in Holland on May 4th and then found 33 days later in a nest box in Denmark.


Monday, 4 May 2015

A Late Breeding Season 2

I have visited two of my nest box schemes over the past two days. Both are much later than last year but there was a interesting attitudinal difference . In the one at sea level out of 20 occupied boxes 6, all Great Tits were incubating, although they have only just got started. By this time in 2014 almost all were well into incubation.

In the scheme at around 200 metres no tits were incubating and only 9 had incomplete clutches. On the same day last year 8 were incubating and 6 had incomplete clutches. The great thing though at this upland Oak woodland was the numbers of Pied Flycatchers singing and entering nest boxes with 13  nests many of them complete.Some of these will turn out to be 'cock nests' but this compares with just seven pairs in 2014. This wood is part of our RAS Pied Flycatcher study and it was great to see 4 of the birds we got a good look at were ringed.

It was a great morning though. We ringed a further 11 Lapwing nestlings and it was great to see 2 families of 3 each, which we ringed a week ago were all still alive and sporting their rings! A visit to a farmer friend to inspect a  Barn Owl box we gave him last year produced a clutch of 4.  Cuckoos were calling and many Snipe drumming.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Late Breeding Season

Despite the few days of warm weather last week the spring here has been cold and many species appear to be having a late start to the breeding season. Have checked 175 nest boxes this week and only one Great Tit is incubating. Many of the others have just started to lay and in several cases they  have not laid an egg a day which is the usual pattern. This time last year the bulk of the population of both Blue and Great Tits were incubating.  However Pied Flycatchers  appeared well on time and already three have built nests.  Usually they arrive when most of the tits are incubating or laying.

Other species appear late, we ringed our first brood of Bearded Tits on on the 26th. The first brood in 2014 was ringed on April 14th. To date we have ringed nestling Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin  and Lapwing.
Young Bearded Tit

Monday, 20 April 2015

Avocet Returns to breed for the Fourth Year

A colour ringed male Avocet has returned to breed at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve for the fourth successive year. It was first ringed, presumably as a chick on 20th June 2008 near Nantes in North West France. It was sighted 45 times in this area in  all seasons and was last seen there in 2012 on 25th February. It then appeared at Leighton Moss on 26th March 2012. It was back in France in late September and was sighted eight times over the winter until it returned to Leighton Moss in late March 2013. It again wintered in North West France before returning to Leighton in late March 2014 and again successfully hatched a clutch. On its way south it was sighted in Lincolnshire on 31/7 before returning to France for  the winter. It was still in France on 18th March and was first sighted at Leighton on April 11th.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Black-tailed Godwits on the Move

The spring passage of Black-tailed Godwit is well underway with counts of up to 1750 on the Allen Pool at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Careful  scoping of the flock has revealed up to 8 different colour ringed birds to date.
A visit this morning when we saw 2 colour ringed birds inspired me to look up the details of the colour ringed birds we have records for. In total we have details of  51 different birds recorded as visiting our area the majority on spring and autumn migration. Of these 51 no fewer than 42 were originally ringed on the breeding grounds in Iceland between mid April to early August. 28 of them were ringed as adults the rest as chicks. When we report a sighting we receive details of both the original ringing information and also any subsequent sightings. Many of these have been sighted at other localities the record goes to a chick ringed in Iceland in July 1999 and sighted 201 times up to our sighting 15 years after ringing! All this information has given us an insight into the migration of this increasing wader.
Our population in winter usually numbers around the 5-600 mark but in spring numbers have peaked  3000 with up to 2000 on autumn passage. The colour ringing  shows that birds occurring on passage in our area winter further south with good numbers on the Dee and the Solent and down into France and Portugal. Some birds appear to use the same migration route in successive years with the largest numbers using the west coast route to Iceland. Others though  vary in their migration routes  as shown by many reports from The Wash and The Netherlands.
These results certainly show the value of colour ringing in studying the movements of such mobile species. We  look forward to finding

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.