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, 25 January 2014

Greenfinch and Twite on the Move

Our latest batch of recoveries  had some interesting  ones for these two species. The highlight was a Greenfinch ringed at Abbotsbury Swannery Dorset  last January and caught at Heysham on November 6th 2013, a movement north of 377 km. We have ringed nearly 11,000 Greenfinch and this is the second longest movement only being beaten by a movement of 392km to the Scottish Highlands. Previous recoveries have shown a similar movement S to SE in winter with recoveries in Shropshire, Nottingham, Hereford, Suffolk and Norfolk.  The  other recent Greenfinch recovery was  109 km NE to Cleveland in August being ringed in our area in February. Again we have  11 other similar recoveries suggesting a winter movement from the NE to our milder west coast area.

Our Twite are ringed at a feeding station at Heysham where we have ringed 1187 in recent years. Three birds caught this winter had been ringed at Machrihanish BO(2) and Sanda Island, both in Argyll and Bute  a movement of 239 km.These recoveries bring the total Twite showing the movement between this breeding area and our wintering site to 27. Obviously this is an important breeding area for our wintering Twite but other recoveries  extend the known breeding area further north to the Highlands and Strathclyde.

Other recoveries reported recently included three Sand Martins  ringed in the River Lune colonies and caught in the same roost at Aube in Western France, bringing our total of Sand Martins recovered in France to 43. A Lesser Redpoll ringed in our area in May was caught at Sandwich Bay Kent  on 16th November 394 km SE. Eleven previous recoveries have shown a similar S to SE movement for the winter.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Review of 2013

I have now got all the  details of our 2013 ringing. The group ringed 12,515 new birds in 2013 made up of 10,625 fully grown and 1,890 nestlings.  Add to this the 3,059 re-traps  and 136 controls we handled 15,710 birds of 71 species making  it the second best year in the group's history.

The Group's four RAS projects went well. With lower water levels and despite a decline in the numbers of occupied holes we handled 979 Sand Martins at the Lune colonies compared with 580 in 2012 when many colonies were washed out. We had 11 controls including three from France. The Leighton Moss Bearded Tit RAS also did better with 21 nestlings ringed of which 16 were retrapped as juveniles. In total 49 juveniles were caught compared with only 17 in  2012. Survival from previous years was excellent with a crude survival rate of  64%.

The Reed Warbler RAS run at the same time as the Bearded Tit RAS suggested a lower adult breeding population (146 compared to 2001 in 2012). However productivity was good with 743 juveniles ringed compared to 504 in 2012. Nestbox breeding pairs of Pied Flycatchers in the Lune valley  were down from 75 to 59 mainly due to logging disturbance in two woods. We recorded 55 retraps/controls but males appeared to be more difficult to catch this year. Productivity was good with 294 nestlings ringed in the RAS woods. Our two CES projects were completed successfully with 127 birds caught at Heysham and 206 at Middleton.

Our most ringed species was Blue Tit with 2118 ringed, closely followed by Swallow with 2046 ringed at two roosts . This generated four controls and only 4 retraps. However the prize for the lowest number of retraps went to  Meadow Pipit with no retraps or controls from 779 ringed! This compares with Lesser Redpoll  with 150 retraps and 31 controls and Siskin with 142 retraps and 23 controls from 451 ringed. Of species ringed infrequently 8 Skylarks and 7 Hawfinch are noteworthy.All in all a very satisfactory years for the Group.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

A 29 Year Old Oystercatcher

Just received news of our oldest Oystercatcher. It was ringed by Kevin Briggs as a nestling at Arkholme on the shingle beds of the River Lune in June 1984 and was found dead just 24 km. to the south on the shores of the Lune  estuary. this is our oldest Oystercatcher to date but is well short of the national record which stands at 40 years.

Ringing by the Morecambe Bay Wader Group of large numbers of Oystercatchers has shown how our locally bred birds winter mainly within Morecambe Bay. Here they mix with birds from Iceland(7), Norway (16), Denmark (1), Faroes (9), Shetland (5), Orkney (7) and Northern  Scotland (24). The  figures refer to the number of recoveries from ringing on the east of Morecambe Bay.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Med Gull Bonanza at Heysham

The Heysham Power Station outfalls attracted a lot of  attention from gull watchers this summer with the presence of a Bonaparte’s Gull. One remarkable spin off was the sightings of large numbers of Mediterranean Gull many of which were Darvic ringed. All told a minimum of 46 Med Gulls were present during this period made up of  16 juvenile, 12 2CY, 4 3CY and 14 adult.

Full details of the colour ringed birds are now to hand. They comprised the following, all ringed as nestlings and seen at Heysham during the period mid-July to September.

Germany 4, Poland 1, France 1,  Netherlands 4, Belgium 4, Czech Republic 1

There was some fascinating differences in the numbers of ringed birds present. In late July almost 50% of the birds were ringed, but in August only 10% were ringed suggesting a marked turnover of birds. Indeed it appears that this movement is part of  post breeding dispersal, for other recoveries in previous years has shown some of the late summer birds at Heysham, winter further south in Britain, France and Spain.

R13E is the best example of this movement. It was born, and is presumably now breeding  in northern France,  yet it has included Heysham in post-breeding movements in at least two years, remaining for a very short time before returning to winter on the Atlantic coast of France. One assumes that this bird does not have a "residential moult location" but just wanders dropping/re-growing the odd feather, gradually  heading for the wintering grounds, but certainly going "round  the houses" in doing so. 

Many thanks to all the observers who reported details of ringed birds. Keep up the good work|

Pete Marsh