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)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

North West Ringers' Conference

On the 18th February 2012 North Lancashire Ringing Group will be hosting the North West Ringers' Conference at Arkholme Village Hall.

The booking forms should be sent out in the next week or so, the cost will be £17 which includes teas/coffees and a hot lunch. The programme is more or less finalised and currently looks like this:

0915 - 0945 Coffee and Registration

0945 - 1000 Introduction and Welcome - Paul Cammack
1000 - 1025 Biometrics - Why should I bother? - Chris du Feu
1025 - 1050 Bearded Tits and Leighton Moss - John Wilson
1050 - 1110 Sand Martins RAS on the River Lune - Richard du Feu

1100 - 1145 Coffee

1145 - 1215 Ringing in the wider countryside - HLS and farm monitoring - David Morris
1215 - 1245 Getting more out of ringing - Rob Robinson

1245 - 1400 Lunch

1400 - 1430 Black magic: Secret movements of North-West Coot - Steve Christmas
1430 - 1500 Bird Ringing - the next 100 years? - Ken Smith

1500 - 1545 Coffee

1545 - 1645 Ringers' Meeting
1645 - 1700 Raffle draw, competition results and close of conference

For more information please contact

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Tufty with a Difference

Bird Watchers visiting Leighton Moss have been surprised to find a male Tufted Duck with a bright blue upper bill. Closer inspection revealed that it was a nasal saddle with the letters ZH.

We have traced this bird and it was ringed as an adult at Saint Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu in France. this is a large lake in western France just south of the Brest peninsular. it was marked on 15/02/06 as part of a study of this species.. Further sightings showed it is quite a wanderer. In September 07 it was still in France but by March 08 it was found in Lincolnshire and in January 09 in Bedfordshire. December 10 found it back in France not far from its marking locality then finally to Leighton Moss this month.

I've been asked wether the nasal saddle in any way affected its survival. Obviously not for this bird is at least six years old . Will be interesting to see if it stops long at Leighton Moss.
Thanks to Brian Howson for the photo


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Swinging Ringing

Dawn Monday 21st calm cloudy excellent ringing weather. We worked a site in the middle of Leighton Moss reed bed in the hope of catching Bearded Tits. We were not expecting a great catch as the Bearded Tit population is low this year after last winters severe weather. First round of our three nets produced nothing. Second round a Wren and a Penduline Tit. A ringing tick for the group and only the second record for the Moss and North Lancashire. Out came Svenssoon and on the data there it was a male on the amount of black around the eye and a first winter bird on the colour of the greater coverts. Duly ringed processed and photographed. Unfortunately the images from my mobile phone camera were not so good so I include one that I prepared earlier from my friend Janusz Stepniewski with whom I ringed Penduline Tits in Poland in 2009. Our session ended with the only Bearded Tits of the morning - a pair with consecutive ring numbers, ringed together in mid October re-trapped together 10 days later and together again today. Very typical of Bearded Tits . From our ringing they form pairs shortly after fledging and remain together, if they both survive of course, right through the winter ad breed together in spring.

At home entering the data for the last two days ringing on the IPMR programme found that we had retrapped a Marsh Tit at our woodland feeding station that was ringed five years and 35 days ago. The Group's oldest Marsh Tit by far.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sand Martin recoveries

We've had another batch of Sand Martin recoveries and leaves just one bird we caught this year as having an unknown origin (well unknown beyond Spain or possibly Senegal anyway).

Once again France have excelled themselves and sent us details of two birds we caught:

Paris 6243026
Ringed 14/08/2009 Lentilles, Aube, France
Retrapped 11/07/2011 Arkholme, Lancashire 806km NW

Paris 6452590
Ringed 17/08/2010 Lentilles, Aube, France
Retrapped 26/07/2011 Alston Reservoir, 777km NW

While both of these are nice they are very unsurprising given the number of Sand Martins ringed in France and it is the only viable route to Africa for British Sand Martins. The bird caught at Alston is out of our normal area however was caught as part of a mission to see where the Alston colony had been populated from. The answer is clear - not the Lune valley!

Details of two birds we ringed as Juveniles at Whittington have also been sent through:
Ringed 29/06/2011 Whittington
Retrapped 01/07/2011 Weather Hills Pond, North Yorkshire 74km E

Ringed 14/06/2011 Whittington
Retrapped 26/06/2011 Whittington
Retrapped 01/07/2011 Weather Hills Pond, North Yorkshire 74km E

These movements once again show that Juvenile Sand Martins move very quickly. Y150440 moved 74km in 2 days while Y150149 did it in 5 days having stayed around for two weeks from ringing.

I have no doubt there are many more Sand Martin details to come through from 2011s ringing, hopefully with several in Senegal.


Friday, 18 November 2011

Which Way Africa?

A recent batch of recoveries from the BTO included details of three Sedge Warblers. Two juveniles ringed at Leighton Moss took the expected southerly direction. One ringed on 23 August was caught just 12 days later at Orfordness in Suffolk a distance of 372 km SE. The other ringed 1st September turned up 15 days later in a net at Titchfield Haven Hampshire 387 SSE. Nothing unusual in these two for we have had 69 previous recoveries of Sedge Warbler from late July to early September in Southern England. The recovery locations, almost all of them controlled by ringers, ranging from Cornwall to Suffolk and all counties in between.

But Y223110 was different . It was ringed on 23 July 2011 at Belvide in Staffordshire and caught at Middleton NR just 26 days later on 18th August, 154 kms NNW. Its our first example of reverse migration in this species. This regularly occurs in a number of species, ringing has shown that some at least retun to the usual migration route.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Goose alert

Please check this site out for neck-collared Greylags and speculation as to their origin. As we are also receiving reasonable numbers of displaced Scandinavian/north Russian Geese, this may include a Greylag or two of extremely interesting origin

Please check the flocks carefully for neck collars. The Greylags seem to be mainly on the Lune estuary saltmarshes or further up river at the moment with none/hardly any around Carnforth Marsh/Leighton. Or are there also loads on the Kent/Foulshaw areas?



Sunday, 13 November 2011

Blue Tit movement

Over the last week I've had a couple more ringing sessions in my garden. The large number of Coal Tits has continued, Blue and Great Tit numbers have also gone up with other species caught include Chaffinch and Bullfinch. There have been a couple of near misses with Sparrowhawk and Jay. Not at all bad for a small urban garden.

The most interesting capture was a Blue Tit ringed at Heysham Nature Reserve on the 15th October arrived in my garden on the 8th November with a movement of 10km. This movement although relatively small is in the 20% of recorded movements of Blue Tits and given recapture movements of less than 5km are not reported in national reports this is quite a good one.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

North Harbour Wall Twite

The first birds of the Autumn turned up in the harbour area on around 9th October this year. Since then numbers have built up, but are quite mobile and perhaps more unsettled compared with earlier years. Larger numbers seem to be frequenting Ocean Edge foreshore than the harbour feeding area, although much movement back and forth occurs throughout the day. Increasing vegetation on the north harbour wall mounds may be leading to more natural seed for the birds, less dependency on the nyger and hence less certainty of finding the birds on the seed.
Today, 63 were counted on OE and then in early afternoon, after the nyger seed was replenished (the morning supply having been eaten by rabbits and feral pigeons - and probably Twite too!), 14 were on the food (of which 5 were unringed).
So far, 41 new birds have been ringed during October and November and two controls caught, both of which had been ringed in early autumn at Machrihanish Bird Observatory.
A catch at Askham-in-Furness today included a Heysham bird ringed only 14 days ago at Heysham. This would suggest movement across the bay occurs in both directions at this time of year. Similar movements were recorded from Heysham to Askham and to Walney at this time last year.
ajd 11/11/2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Gritting Continues

The Bearded Tit gritting season is in full swing at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Birds have been visiting the grit trays since 14th of September and up to 14 different birds have been recorded visiting the trays recently on one day. We know how many, because almost all our birds are individually colour ringed and are logged almost daily by dedicated local birders especially Keith Kellet. To date we have identified 12 adult males and nine adult females. We estimate that the breeding population this year was 12 pairs so almost all the adults have visited the trays. This season we have ringed 33 young birds , of these 24 have visited the trays. To date one bird, an adult female, has been recorded on the tray on 20 days . Last years record was 22 days but there is time yet, for gritting can go on until mid December.

Birds regularly visit the trays in pairs including the young birds, for Bearded Tits appear to form pairs soon after fledging and remain together ,if they survive of course, to the breeding season.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

More on Coal Tits

John posted yesterday about the large number of Coal Tits being seen locally. I have also seen this in Lancaster and so decided to do a bit of ringing in the garden today to see how many birds were using the feeders. After 3 hours the wind picked up to be enough to drop leaves into net rather than either side of it so I gave up at that point. Anyway 32 birds in 3 hours made up of:

Coal Tit - 12 New
Long Tailed Tit - 10 New, 1 Control (Probably from the University via Paul's garden)
Bullfinch - 3 New
Great Tit - 2 New, 1 Retrap from November 2010
Blue Tit - 1 New, 1 Retrap from November 2010
Chaffinch - 1 New

Since taking down the net very few of the Coal Tits coming to the feeders are ringed so I only ringed a small proportion of them. The biggest surprise were the Bullfinch which, until today, were not on my garden list.

Perhaps the huge number of Coal Tits explains why the sunflower seed feeder needed refilling 3 times yesterday. I've since upgraded to a bigger model so hopefully they will last at least a day between refills.

Are the large Coal Tit numbers a North West thing or is this being seen nationally?


Saturday, 5 November 2011

A Coal Tit Winter?

Had quite a few comments this past month from garden bird enthusiasts that there are many more Coal Tits around this autumn. Typical was today where one lady had seen six together on her feeders in a site some distance from woodland, she added that they were more numerous than Blue Tits.

This sent me scurrying to check out our ringing stats for this autumn. The best data was from one of our woodland feeding stations. So far this autumn we have had 124 handlings of Coal Tits this compares with only 32 in the same period last year although we have had one more visit this year during the period late September to early November. During the same period this year we had only 45 Blue tit handlings. So it looks like a good winter for Coal Tit numbers, Will be interesting to see what happens through the winter.

One of the Coal Tits caught this year had been ringed at the same site six years and 314 days previously. Certainly our record for a ringed Coal Tit. This autumn we have had two Blue Tits which were ringed as nestlings in the high altitude Oak woods in the Lune Valley as nestlings in our nest box schemes, caught in lowland areas, one at a garden feeding station the other in the Leighton Moss reed bed the later showed a movement of 16 km.