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, 23 August 2015

Pied Flycatcher End of Term Report

We run a Pied Flycatcher RAS on our nest box  schemes in 12 upland woodlands in the Lune valley North Lancashire. This year saw a record population with 90 occupied boxes four  up on 2014. It was rather a mixed season with 51 successful nests compared to 77 in 2014. Two of the larger woods suffered predation of eggs and young probably by weasels. In one wood  only part of the wood was affected. In two woods, young died  about a  week after hatching suggesting a shortage of caterpillars. In one of these woods the four pairs nesting in the mature alder  part of the wood lost their broods but the one in the oak section  reared six young. Brood size overall was also down from 6.9 last year to 5.4 this year but we managed to ring  293 nestlings.
We re-trapped a total of 85 birds from previous year's ringing.  Of the 53 originally ringed as nestling in the valley,  15 returned to nest in their natal wood  and 27 moved to other woods within the Lune valley and 11  either moved outside the valley to breed or had been ringed as nestlings outside the valley. One of these had been ringed in a nestbox in Wales  242 km SSW. 
Of  adults  27 returned to breed in the same wood and just 5 moved to a new wood within the valley.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Poor Season Continues

July was a disappointing month  especially for Reed Warblers and Blue Tits August has continued in the same vain.  Reed Warbles  are having a very poor season at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. By this time last year we had ringed 635 juveniles,  this  year just 165 despite similar effort. Sedge Warblers are mainly passage birds here and a similar comparison  shows a  small increase,  87 in 2014 and 103 juveniles this year. Willow Warblers  have also done better with 193 last year and 201 this  year.

Blue Tits are down  from 132 in 2014 to 98 this year. Over the past five years in summer we have averaged 11% of adult Blue Tits in our catch. This year it has risen  to 30.5% suggesting very poor productivity which reflects what we found in our nest boxes.

To date we have only caught 3 adult Reed Warblers in August. they seem to have made an early  move out. A conclusion backed up by one adult that we caught on the 15th . It weighed in at 14.4 grams compared to the usual 10-11 grams. It had a fat score of 5 and was obviously preparing to leave.

Today we moved away from the reed bed to Jerry's well stocked woodland edge garden and caught 100 birds including 8 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. In past visits Blue Tits have been the commonest bird but today  Great Tits surpassed them .Of the 20 Blue Tits caught 13 were adults confirming the poor productivity this year.


Friday, 31 July 2015

A Disappointing July

July has been a rather disappointing month for our ringing studies at  Leighton Moss  especially our normally most ringed species, Reed Warbler . Because of the windy and at times wet weather we have only been able to ring on 13 days compared to an  average of 19 over the past 5 years. Inevitably this had led to lower total catches.

Our main study species Bearded Tit  is doing reasonably well with 8 adult males and 9 adult females identified so far and a total of 24 juveniles ringed to date. Past experience suggests that the total breeding population is around 13-15 pairs. the numbers of juveniles ringed to date suggest a late poor first brood but second brood birds are now appearing.

We also run a RAS  for Reed Warblers, to date we have caught 131 adults which given the decline in effort is around average. However productivity appears low to date.  The 5 year average for our catch of juveniles in July is 223, this year it is only 93.  The Sedge Warbler 5 year average is 74, this year we have caught only 30. Willow Warblers averaged 75  so allowing for the decline in effort this years catch of 58 juveniles is reasonable.  Blue Tits despite their poor productivity in our nest box schemes also  appear to be doing reasonably well with this years catch of 54 juveniles- 5 up on the five year average. Lets hope August brings both better weather and more birds.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Dissapointing Season So Far

The poor season continues in the  reed bed at Leighton Moss. To date we have only ringed 18 juvenile Bearded Tits  this compares with 53 in the same period  last year. Our Reed  Warbler RAS is going well in catching adults, 106 so far  compared to 115 in the same period last year, half of which are retraps from previous years. But juveniles are disappointing, only 39 to date compared to 230 by this time last year.

Other warblers are doing better with similar numbers to last year of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler. Although the main influx for these species is usually  from late July on.

Why Reed Warbler productivity should be so low when the adult population appears normal is interesting. Is it due to the poor  spring weather or is it a late start to the season? One other factor is that for the first time half the reedbed is being dried out in an attempt to re-invigorate the reed in future years, the other half is being held at normal water levels. To date we have caught most of the juvenile Reed Warblers in the wet area.

Will be interesting to see how the season progresses. We will continue to study these important reed bed populations and their productivity This is the 19th year of our study

Sunday, 12 July 2015

North Lancs Ringing Group annual report 2014

For the last three years North Lancs Ringing Group have produced annual reports.  The 2014 one can be found here:

North Lancs RG annual report 2014

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the report and in particular to all the land owners who permitted ringing on their land.

Previous reports are available here:
North Lancs RG annual report 2013
North Lancs RG annual report 2012

The Sand Martin that went away... and came back

Most years I will post something about a Sand martin being recaught in France, Spain, Senegal or Sussex.  These are always nice but of relatively little value beyond saying how quickly Sand martins leave the UK.  Incidentally for getting to France it's fairly quick with the first broods almost certainly heading south now and most juveniles being through France within a month of fledging.

Just occasionally we have birds recaught more locally but on passage.  One such bird was D335186 which was ringed near Kirkby Lonsdale in June 2013 as a breeding male.  On the 25th July 2014 it was caught at Walney bird observatory, presumably fattening up for the migration to West Africa although could have been breeding closer to Walney in 2014.  On the 9th July D335186 returned to Kirkby Lonsdale at the same colony as it was in during 2013.  This, more or less, confirms it was on passage at Walney and adds another small bit of information into the puzzle about what Sand martins do between breeding and migrating.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Reed Bed Ringing Latest Results

Still proving a rather difficult and disappointing season at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Our main study species Bearded Tit is well down,  60 juveniles by this time in 2014 only 16 so far this year. Reed Warblers, 70 juveniles last year only 17 to date this year. Sedge Warblers a little better,12 last year 8 this year. Blur Tits though are disastrous, we ringed at our normally most successful  site along the reed edge and for the first time in 25 years did not catch a single  blue Tit. Last year  we had ringed 80 juveniles, this year only 24.

I am certain that the cold ,wet and windy spring is the main factor behind these poor figures for ringing effort is only marginally down. Lets hope that  in the case of Bearded Tits and the warblers it has just delayed the start to the breeding season.  One complicating factor is that half the reserve is being dried out in an  effort designed to re-invigorate the reed in future seasons.There does  appear to be less insect life in the dry areas than the still wet areas. What effect this will have on productivity will be interesting to see.