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, 12 April 2014

Colour ringed waders

It was a bit too windy to do any ringing this morning so I spent the morning trying to read some Black-tailed Godwit colour rings on the Allen Pools at Leighton Moss.  Initially success was limited to the French ringed breeding Avocet now in its 3rd season at Leighton Moss.  This bird was ringed as a chick in the gulf of Morbihan, France during 2008. It was then seen frequently until 2010 close to its natal area before appearing in 2012 at Leighton Moss and has been present every season since.

After another hour of looking through the hundreds of summer plumaged Godwit I finally found some White Wagtails, Ruff, summer plumaged Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, Knot and Turnstone yet still no colour rings. I decided that Leighton Moss must be the place where unmarked birds go while on migration so was about to give up.  Luckily something disturbed the Godwit from roosting in deep water and I found the first colour ringed Godwit of the day:

With a bit of imagination you can see the Green/Green/Yellow on the left leg and Green/Yellow/Green on the right, also known as GGY-GYG.  This shows the bird was ringed in Suffolk.  I'm awaiting details for this bird however it is the first time we're aware of it being in the area.

With renewed enthusiasm I rescanned the flock and quickly found two more colour marked birds, YN-RX (Yellow/Black, Red/WhiteX) and YN-LO (Yellow/Black, Lime/Orange).  The first of these is a regular at Leighton Moss, having been ringed in Iceland in 2009.  It is often present in October and late March to early April spending the rest of the winter on the Dee.  Sadly (or maybe, judging by the other photos, luckily) things were happening too quickly to take a photo!  YN-LO was also ringed in Iceland although details are still to come.

I once again was planning to give up when another bird woke up and started preening.  The rapid leg movement while standing in deep water made reading the combination just a little difficult however after quite a few minutes of waiting OR-WW (Orange/Red, White/White) finally became readable.  For me this is a nice record because it was ringed on the Wash where I have ringed many birds although I was catching birds on a different field on the Wash when this one was ringed in August 2010. This bird has had few sightings since ringing which are all in East Anglia except a passage record in Scotland in April 2013.

Just as I had decided it was too cold and really time to give up I managed to see another colour ringed bird.  Sadly for readers I took a photo:

All I can say is this is the bird that got away!

As always thanks to all the ringers who provided the details of the birds (Guillaume Gelinaud, Jenny Gill, Pete Potts and Vigfus Eyjolfsson).  Sightings of colour marked birds are always really valuable particularly at this time of year when there is rapid turnover of birds using sites to feed up before heading to Iceland to breed.  My guess is that most of these will clear out on Tuesday evening when a gentle southerly wind is forecast.  It may be an excellent evening to be at the Allen Pools to watch large numbers of Godwits depart for Iceland in the early evening.

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