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, 26 January 2009

Lune valley Whooper & imminent Twite

The Twite at Heysham will be updated in the next day or so. I was waiting for another catch to help sort out the retraps but various things conspired to thwart yesterdays lengthy effort by Alan (notably the unfortunately-timed arrival of police on a "what are you doing - we're new and dont know you" theme)

Whooper Swan
After about three hours, spanning two sessions, down a muddy slippery road with a "bobsleigh" run at the half-way point, an unsatisfactory and patently incorrect "553" was finally modified to an accurate "S53"

The history is a little ungrandiose but at least it shows some cred - a difficult to approach (therefore read) bird in proper wild habitat!

W19967 S53
Ringed: Muthill, near Crieff, Tayside 56 20N 3 57 W Ad 7/11/06
Seen Muthill, near Crieff, Tayside 1/2/07
Seen Melling, Lune Valley at least 15/12/08 to present

One of a herd of 8 adults which have all almost certainly been present since mid-November, but the presence of a darvic was not suspected until mid-December due to range of birds & length of grass!

Thanks to Kane Brides & Richard for sorting this out and Edward Towers for access.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Speedy Sedge Warblers

A recent recovery of a Sedge Warbler on 28 August in Seine-Maritime France just 13 days after ringing in our area inspired me to look through our files for similar quick movements.

We have 4 reports of Sedge Warblers ringed in the Tay reed beds in eastern Scotland in mid to late August and caught in our area all 4 just 7 days after ringing. So many of the Sedge Warblers we catch are obviously of Scottish origin and have already started their migration.

Perhaps the most interesting report was a young bird ringed at Leighton Moss on 13/08/04 at 10.00 and caught next day at 05.50 at Brandon Marsh Warwickshire. Sedge Warblers are night migrants so this bird had travelled 220 km in one night which at that time of year means a maximum ca. 6 hours of flying time with a minimum speed of ca 35 km per hour. When originally caught it weighed 12.7 grams and when retrapped it had lost exactly a gram!

Of course we don't know if a bird starts migrating the next night after ringing or if it was caught as soon as it arrives at the site it is reported from. So the details given below should be considered with this in mind.

Birds have traveled the c.400 km to reach the English south coast in 4 days(2), 5 days (3) 6 days (3) 7 Days (2) 9 days (2) and 10 days (2).

Going further afield birds have reached Belgium in 10 days, France in 11, 14(2), 16days and 23 days. These birds travelled between 700 and 1323 km.

All this information has come from other ringers catching and releasing our birds. For our part we have ringed almost 11,000 Sedge Warblers in our area.

John Wilson

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Heysham Knot (again)

From my recent postings it appears as if I'm somewhat obsessed with waders and in particular with Knot at Heysham. Today during what can only be described as poor weather a decent flock of Knot (c1500-2000) were present on the concrete helipad. Of these at least 4 were colour marked although I only managed to read one combination in full. This bird was ringed in late September on the Waddensea. Once again this demonstrates the eastward movement of Knot throughout the winter until they migrate north through Iceland or Norway back to Greenland and Canada. Any sightings are of huge value to help the understanding of bird movements and survival in the UK.


Monday, 12 January 2009

heavy Blackbirds

I was surprised to catch a Blackbird in my garden last week that was rather heavy. I had originally caught this bird in November 2005, when it weighed a pretty normal 113g. Last week, I re-caught it and it weighed 137g, an increase of 24g. A lot of this extra weight was stored as fat (visible if a ringer gently blows on the breast feathers to reveal the skin underneath) and you might like to put 25g (or one ounce) of fat on your kitchen scales to see what this amount of fat would look like!

There has been some recent information from ringing providing evidence that some species of bird, particularly Blackbirds, put on weight in harsh winter weather. You might imagine that this would make perfect sense - if food is in short supply, load on as much as you can in case you can't find some later on. However, it isn't quite as simple as that as a heavy bird takes up more energy to move and is thus less efficient at using its food whilst worse, it is less manoeverable and thus more at risk of being caught by predators. Whilst much more research is needed for humans to understand the processes involved in weight gain in birds in harsh weather, it appears as if the birds know what to do - and this seems to be to feed up!

Incidentally....I wonder where this bird had been for the past 3 years as I hadn't caught it since 2005 despite some intensive efforts, but the faithfulness of birds to urban gardens is a topic for another post!

paul cammack