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)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Bearded Tit End of Season Report

This is the 22nd year of our study at Leighton Moss RSPB. It was an interesting year with good productivity and survival.

 Breeding Population and Survival
This year we have either re-trapped or re-sighted a total of 15 adult females and 11 adult males. Past experience is that we always miss a few and this would suggest a breeding population of ca 18 pairs. Survival this year has been most interesting.  Of 31 adults known to be alive in 2012, 15 were present in the breeding season of 2013.  This gives a crude survival rate of 49%. The lower numbers of grit tray sightings obtained this year has probably reduced the numbers of adult re-sightings. However 49% survival rate is about average for adults in years with reasonable winter weather.  However of 17 juveniles ringed in the 2012 breeding season no less than 12 survived to the 2013 breeding season, a survival rate of 77% and the best survival rate yet recorded for juveniles and only the third year in the 22 years of the study that juvenile survival has been better than adult survival.  Overall this gives a survival rate of 60%, one of the highest yet recorded.

 Productivity was much better this year with 48 ringed although one un-ringed bird was seen in late October.  After a cold start, which surprisingly did not delay breeding the weather was  good with a low water level  so no flooding out of natural nests.  Of 21 nestlings ringed 16 were caught as  juveniles so survival at this stage was good.
Grit Tray Sightings
A total of 191 sightings of colour ringed birds were obtained between August 24th and December 17th on the grit trays.  A total of 54 different birds were recorded, 24 adults and 29 juveniles. Total sightings were 114 down on 2012 probably due to the mild autumn with large numbers of insects present and a low water level, allowing access to the substrate.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Will More Twite Come or Not?

Our Twite ringing project has taken a few knocks so far this winter.  Very few birds have arrived at Heysham Harbour this autumn in comparison with previous years. Maximum numbers so far have only been around 17 ( up to 81 last winter at this time). Flocks are present on the coast to the south of us and on Walney, although none has yet appeared at a ringing site on the Duddon Estuary.  Either we have been bypassed this year or possibly there may be more to come if the weather to the north delivers a cold spell.

The storm of 5/12 did not help the situation as the feeding area was severely disrupted by flood water; the area was described elsewhere as a mini-replica of the Grand Canyon.  Some renovation of the area allowed feeding to continue and a regular flock of up to 50 finches comprising Goldfinch, Linnet and single figure numbers of Twite have been present.

This morning saw the site half flooded again.  A couple of hours with pick and shovel resulted in a pair of channels that will hopefully divert water around the feeding area.  The 'upstream' end of the area was also built up above the suroundings to try to deflect water as well.  Following this disturbance fresh seed attracted a flock of similar numbers of finches within minutes.  They had clearly been watching the procedings from nearby.  The make up of Goldfinch, Linnets (and Twite?) was not determined owing to the very strong wind (wind chill recorded at -6C) causing eyes to water copiously and binoculars to buffet!

Whether or not this work is a lasting solution is doubtful unless the weather calms down considerably.

Hopefully things will improve after this week and ringing might again be a possibility.  Note that vehicle access along most of the harbour wall is prohibited for safety reasons until the storm damage to harbour installations is rectified by the harbour authorities.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Recent Recoveries

The highlights of the latest batch of recoveries were four in France and one from Latvia.

The Latvia one was extraordinary, a Black-headed gull  ringed as a nestling in 1995. When I first looked at the recovery sheet I thought we had a record long liver, only to find that it was one that we read the  ring of in the field three times in the winters of 1996 and 97! Someone must have been searching the archives.

The French recoveries were three Sedge Warblers in  August and a Reed Warbler in early September all along the French west coast. The Reed Warbler and one of the Sedge Warblers being caught by French ringers at the same site.  This brings the total  of Sedge Warblers ringed by the group and reported from France to 47 along with 18 Reed Warblers. Interesting difference in the recovery rate of these two warblers. We have ringed to date 17,371 Reed Warblers and  13,046 Sedge  Warblers  but have foreign recoveries of 59 Sedge Warblers against 36 Reed Warblers. However we have  14 Reed Warblers reported in Iberia and North Africa  but only five Sedge Warblers there, reflecting the different migration strategies of these two wetland warblers.

Other recoveries included a Lesser Redpoll ringed on spring passage on May Ist and reported 216 km south in Northants on October 31. Fits in nicely with many other recoveries showing Redpolls wintering in southern England. A juvenile Reed Bunting moved 109 km SE by mid October.