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)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Pied Flycatchers Have a Successful Season

Our Pied Flycatcher study in the Lune Valley Woodlands has had a very successful season. In total we have ringed 278 nestlings from 40 broods. we also caught 55 adults. Of these one had been first ringed in 2005, six in 2007 ten in 2008 and 13 in 2009.
Many birds ringed as nestlings return to the area in succesive years . Of 11 birds ringed as nestlings in 2009 only three returned to breed in the wood in which they were reared with eight moving to diferent woods. Adults were quite site faithful though, of 18 caught as adults in 2009 all but four returned to the same wood to breed again.
Perhaps the most interesting finding this year was made by Kevin Briggs. He proved that pairs do occasionally have second broods. A pair which fledged their first brood in early June and were both caught at the nest box had a second brood in the same wood with the young flying in mid July.


Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Whitethroat parity

A quick perusal through the Heysham NR/Middleton NR ringing totals so far this year sees Lesser and Common Whitethroat both registering at 32 new-ringed birds each. I'll produce a graph of the Whitethroat ratios at Heysham over the years when I get some time, but it will almost certainly show a general trend of significant increase in the numbers of Lesser Whitethroat in relation to Common Whitethroat. In this respect, the ringing totals so far this year seem to be a reflection of local breeding birds & offspring with any 'pure' spring passage birds appearing to be non-existent (Common Whitethroat)and less than five (Lesser Whitethroat). This seems to be an especially good year for Lesser Whitethroat, notably on the Heysham NR CES where it has almost been the commonest bird!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

never-ending excitement

For those of you who think ringing is guaranteed non-stop fun, this next item will come as a big surprise.

Richard and I tried out a new tactic yesterday evening: choose a level field on a floodplain away from a colony, wait for a calm, dull evening, put up four 60 ft nests in the shape of a cross and play a tape of Sand Martins or mixed hirundines.

The result? No birds in two and a half hours.

Still, we learnt something: two of us can put up this pattern of nets quite quickly (but three people or more would be better) and the tactic doesn't work in the Lune Valley in July but it might be worth doing again sometime (maybe in passage time?)

Now, what can we try next?


Saturday, 10 July 2010

Sand Martin success

This year has been a record breaker for Sand Martins and the season is far from over. So far a total of 1798 captures have been made at 2 large colonies on the Lune and a small colony on the Hindburn.

The totals so far are:
New adults 660
New Juvenile 794
Controls: 5
1 from Spain in 2008 (Caught in 2009 on the hindburn)
2 carrying French rings
1 from Sussex
1 unknown

This compares to a total from 2009 of 166 Juveniles and 205 adults.
While a direct comparison in totals is not valid as the weather this year has allowed visits at times when most juveniles are about there is clearly a huge increase in Sand Martin population in the Lune valley this year.

46 birds ringed in 2009 have been recaught this year. This is broken down as follows: 9% of juveniles ringed last year in the Lune valley have been retrapped this year and 15% of adults. On the face of it this is a low survival rate of adults however as the colonies have grown we are not managing to cover 100% of the holes. An additional complication is a new colony has appeared with about 400 holes between the two main colonies on the Lune. A visit is planned to see how many of 2009 ringed birds are breeding there.

A much fully report will appear here at the end of the season.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Bearded Tit And Reed Warbler Latest News

Our study of these two species At Leighton Moss continues well
To date we have caught 27 Adult Male Bearded Tits the same as in the whole of the 2009 season which extended to late November. We have only caught 10 adult females again suggesting there is a surplus of males. Of these 37 adults only one had not been ringed in previous years.

Three catches of juveniles resulted in 41 being caught and colour ringed, well on the way to last years total for the whole season of 104 juveniles.

To date we have caught 146 adult Reed Warblers of these 72 were ringed in previous seasons as follows

2002 1 Seven years and 259 days after ringing
2003 2
2004 4
2005 2
2006 3
2007 16
2008 11
2009 35

Juveniles are now appearing but first impressions are that they are latter than 2009


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Many Resident Species have had an Excellent Breeding Season

Feedback from Group Members suggests that many of our resident passerine species have had a very successful season judging by the numbers of young birds being ringed. Tits especially are present in very good numbers. Catches of Blue, Great, Marsh and Long-tailed Tits at Leighton Moss for example are up between 50 and 60 % on last year. There also seem more Treecreeper, Dunnock and Goldcrest than usual although the numbers in both years are smaller than the previous species.

First impressions also are that Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap are also present in good numbers. But it is quite early to be fully certain for these migrant species.

Most of our breeding waders seem to have had a successful season on the upland and river valley areas but numbers are very poor on the salt marshes which have dried up completely this year.


Pied Flies on the telly

It is typical of John's modesty that he hasn't told us that he was on the TV recently demonstrating the Pied Flycatcher boxes - you can watch the report (originally on North-West Tonight in mid-June) by following this link:


Monday, 5 July 2010

Never mind the bollocks here's the bullocks

A few nestbox items

I went to clear out my Hindburndale clough boxes by Park House Farm and there was a reception committee and subsequent entourage of 14 bullocks. Most of the box checking involved leaning over a barbed wire fence. I cleaned out the inside and then the bullocks followed suit by copiously licking the outside of each box, once their attention had been drawn. This would obviously have ben more serious if they had been able to rub against them as well

The nestbox which earlier in the season had a half-completed tit nest topped by a dead ringed 2CY female Pied Flycatcher (ringed Outhwaite) had a happier ending. All the above was cleared out and a latish brood of 6 Pied Flys have now fledged

Finally, visit u-tube and type: Tree Sparrow attacks baby Blue Tits in the search.
apparently this happened at/near Wennington