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, 16 January 2012

Blue Tits recover

Two visits to the woods at Roeburndale this weekend saw a welcome increase in the number of Blue Tits after worries about their low numbers earlier in the winter. 80 birds caught, of which 6 were Coal Tit (a very low number for this site), 41 Blue Tit and 20 Great Tit. Of these birds, the breakdown of new and retrapped birds broken down by age class is as follows:

Coal Tit no new birds, retrap - 1 juv, 5 adult
Blue Tit new birds - 12 juv, 5 adult; retrap - 15 juv, 9 adult
Great Tit new birds - 2 juv, 2 adult; retrap - 9 juv, 7 adult

This suggests that juvenile birds did survive until winter in good numbers. Low numbers earlier in the autumn and winter were possibly related to a very good food supply in the woods (we were still being bitten by insects well into November) meaning that Blue Tits stayed in the canopy feeding on natural food until late on in the season.

Rather oddly, very few nestlings from the many boxes in this valley are ever caught in winter in these woods - we still don't know where they all end up!


Friday, 6 January 2012

A Record Year

The Group has had a most successful year with 14,214 birds of 65 species ringed in 2011. This is made up of 11,890 full grown birds and 234 nestlings. We also recorded 3987 retraps or recoveries making a total of 18,201 handlings. This is 1259 up on 2010 which was also a record year. Below I list some of the years achievements.

The most ringed bird was Sand Martin as part of our RAS study of the Lune colonies. Breeding pairs increased quite dramatically this year and we ringed 2140 new birds made up of 1131 adults and 1018 juveniles and we had 648 retraps mainly of birds from previous years. The survival rate from 2010 was one of the highest yet recorded. We were rewarded with five French and one Spanish controls and 16 from elsewhere in Britain. To date we have had seven recoveries on their southward migration, But the highlight was the re-trapping of two birds at our colonies of birds that had been ringed originally on the Lune, re-trapped in winter in Senegal West Africa then back again at our colonies.

Blue tits at 1961 (1053 adults and 903 nestlings) was our second commonest bird. The nestlings were ringed as part of the monitoring of our 15 nest box schemes. Most of these are in the higher oak woods of the Lune valley and so far this year we have had six retraps at our feeding stations showing a marked movement from this upland woods to the more hospitable winter quarters in towns and villages.

Another RAS study, that of Reed Warblers at Leighton Moss accounted for 980 ringed and 337 retraps.. Yearly survival rates were also good and we established a group record for our longest lived Reed Warbler at nine years and 314 days beating the previous record by just 21 days.

Yet another of the Groups RAS studies that of Pied Flycatchers in the Lune valley produced record numbers with 507 nestlings and 51 new adults ringed. Survival from 2010 was also good. we caught 62 birds from previous years.

Other species ringed in good numbers included Sedge Warbler (576), Willow Warbler (618), Greenfinch (763), Goldfinch (489), Lesser Redpoll (430) and Siskin (483). Of the rarer birds in our area the ringing of 46 Grasshopper Warblers and 54 Lesser Whitethroats should not be overlooked. The latter produced our most outstanding control, one ringed on spring migration at Eliat in Israel and caught breeding at Middleton NR. Running it a close second was a Cetti's Warbler ringed in March 2010 at Leighton Moss and found breeding just over a year later near Portsmouth 389 km SSE . The second longest movement by a British ringed Cetti's Warbler.