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)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Where Have All the Blue Tits Gone?

Blue Tits appear to be very scarce this season. At Leighton  Moss our average August catch for the past five years has been 69, this August with a week to go we have caught only 14. Other ringers in our area report a similar scarcity even those with feeders such as Heysham. Garden bird feeders also report low numbers. The breeding population in our nest boxes declined from  160 nests in 2012 to 135 this year but productivity, at least to fledging was good. Possibly they are still in the woods, will be interesting to see what September/October brings. Tit flocks usually have a good number of warblers with them at this time of year  especially Willow Warblers so with no tit flocks to bring them in our catch to date is just 164 compared with 251 last year.

By contrast  Reed and Sedge Warblers are well up. In the whole of the  2012 season we caught 671 Reed Warblers and 186 Sedge Warblers. With three or so weeks to go we have already caught 798 Reed and 252 Sedge Warblers.

August is  always a quiet time for our main study species, Bearded Tits as they all moult and  keep low down in the reeds. One new departure  though was the sighting of two birds on the grit trays on August 24th. From their colour rings we identified them as two adult females. The previous earliest date was September 11th. Adults usually visit the grit trays in the early part of the gritting season, possibly because they know the location of the trays.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pied Flycatchers End of Term Report

Managed at last to get full details of our Pied Flycatcher RAS in the Lune Valley. The total population was down from 72 occupied nest boxes in 2012 to 59 this year.  The largest decline occurred in one wood where 5 pairs bred in 2012 but none this year, mainly we think because of tree felling and other work within the wood. Peak population was 76 in 2011 but got as low as 54 pairs in 2009.

Productivity though was good with only three of the boxes failing to produce young and a total of 325 nestling's were ringed by the group. A total of  81 adults were also caught, 54 of which were re-traps. These show the pattern of previous years, the adults mainly returning to the same wood and nestling's returning to breed for the first time  usually moving away from the natal wood to other woods in the valley. A few move further though,with two caught breeding in the Ribble Valley and  our re-trapping of  two females ringed as nestling's in Cheshire and Durham. By contrast a female was caught nesting successfully in the same box as it was hatched.

The oldest bird recorded this year was a male caught 6 years and 10 days after ringing as a nestling in the same wood.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Reed Bed Passerines Have a Good Season

Our ringing visits to Leighton Moss RSPB over the past few days suggest that Reed and Sedge Warblers especially have had a very successful season. The average August  catch of Reed Warblers over the past 16 years has been 366, over the first ten days of this August we have already  caught 232 and mid to late August usually produces the best catches. The breeding population based on the numbers of adults caught (140 against 182 in 2012) appears to be down but productivity has obviously been good. Adults prepare to leave as shown by one caught today weighing 13.8 grams and a fat score of 4. But juvenile weights have yet to show any noticeable increase.

The main Sedge Warbler passage is also in mid to late August. The 16 year average catch is 180. To date we have caught 64.Other warblers also appear to have done well especially Blackcap with 56 caught so far this year compared to just 27 in the whole of 2012.  Our isolated Bearded Tits are our main study. They have also done better this year with 36 juveniles caught compared to only 17 last year. They are now  stating to moult which makes them much more difficult to catch.