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)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Out Of Bounds Dipper

This superb photo of a colour ringed Dipper was taken by David Talbot on the River Kent in Levens Park on January 10th during the height of the cold spell. We have tracked it down to one ringed by Peter Mawby in his Dipper Study area which is centred on Sedbergh where he ringed 123 nestlings last year.

Although the movement is only about 16 kms it is the first time a Dipper has been recorded moving from the Lune and its tributaries to the Kent. Peter suggests that it seems probable that this winter's severe weather caused more young birds to move away than usual. He also reports that on recent visits to Sedbergh that the breeding territories are only very slowly being occupied. This time last year, despite the cold spell, nesting was well under way.

The BTO Migration Atlas shows that the average dispersal of young Dippers is only about 2.5 km and invariably within the same river system so this Dipper is quite unusual.

Peter would be very grateful for any other sightings of colour ringed Dippers. Please report them to this site.

John Wilson

Monday, 15 February 2010

Wintering Redwing

Redwing Recoverie fron Local Ringing
Green =in the same winter as ringing
Red = in following winters except the one in Finland which was in spring.

Redwing appear to be present in low numbers this winter an impression supported by several local birders. A recent ringing visit to one of our local roosts resulted in the catching of only three where in previous winters we have caught 20+. There were good numbers around in late October and early November so presumably they have moved on. Our past recoveries do suggest that some birds pass through our area to winter further south in France or west to Ireland. Our recoveries also show that birds can change their wintering areas from one year to the next with recoveries in Italy (2), Greece France, Portugal and Azerbyzhan in following winters. The down side is that all were shot!

John Wilson

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Record Breaking Bittern

Brian Howson's superb photograph taken on 31st January has enabled us to read the last three numbers of the ring - 702. This is a female Bittern ringed as a nestling at Leighton Moss on the 8th of May 2000 with ring no 1291702. The ring number has been photographed or read through a telescope on 6 occasions over the past three years. This latest sighting means that it is nine years and 268 days since ringing making it the oldest Bittern recorded by the British Ringing Scheme. The bird was sexed as a female by DNA sampling at the time of ringing. It's sibling ringed 03 was also a female and was last identified with certainty at Leighton Moss on 2nd November 2008. We also have a third ringed Bittern a male that was rehabilitated by the RSPCA after being found wandering down a street in Bamber Bridge.It was released at Leighton Moss on 20 February 2009. This bird has a red colour ring also and was last seen on 10th of October.

John Wilson

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Oystercatcher ringing

Yesterday we caught some Oystercatchers at Heysham helipad. As the Oystercatchers roosting there have not been caught on a regular basis until relatively recently only about 6% were already ringed. Of these some were very interesting:

1 ringed August 1982 in Lincolnshire
1 ringed August 1993 in Lincolnshire
1 ringed in Iceland (it was also colour ringed)
1 ringed on the Isle of Mull in 1984 and caught last year.
19 were ringed in December 2008 at Heysham
10 were ringed in February 2006 at Heysham
1 from 2001 at Heysham

Perhaps of more interest than the retraps was the age structure of the birds. 97% were full adults and all but one of the remainder were at least 2 years old. This is probably down to the hard weather over the 6 weeks causing immature birds either to die or to be in such poor condition they need to feed in fields over the high tide period.

The 15 dead birds I picked up on Foulney a couple of weeks ago in the cold were all immature birds or adults that had not completed their primary feather moult. All the adults we checked at Heysham had completed their primary moult suggesting that incomplete primary moult is not a big problem in the bay however those that had failed to complete were hit particularly hard by the cold weather.