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, 30 May 2016

A Morning with Bearded Tits

Spent an interesting morning using new technology to  watch a pair of Bearded Tits feeding their brood of six young in one of my nest boxes at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. This is part of my 17 year study of this species, the results of which have just been published in Ringing &Migration. To get the colour ring combinations of the adults I used to move a hide near to the nest over 3 days or so, quite a task when you had10-15 nests. Recently we have used motion activated cameras but yesterday we positioned a small camera  to give a good view of the entrance and  we could watch what went on on a tablet siting in deck chairs along a nearby ride! With the zoom we could identify most of the prey the adults were bringing in, mainly blue tailed damsel flies. They were feeding ca ever 4-5 mins. and quite unusually the pair came in together almost all the time. We  easily got the colour ring combinations and discovered that they were the same pair which had already reared a brood of five in a nest box 110 metres  away. The young from this nest had fledged on 21st of April and the first egg of this second brood was laid just 11 days later.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Nestbox Carnage

The first visit to our nestboxes in Pott Yeats Wood this season augered well - 7 boxes with Pied Flycatcher nests out of the total of 43 boxes, a good proportion for this relatively low altitude valley woodland.

However, today's visit told a very different story.  All 7 nests contained many fragments of eggshell, the result of predation probably by a mammal species (possibly Woodmouse).

It was a depressing day, lifting one lid after another to find yet more predation.  In all, 10 clutches had been destroyed (7 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Blue Tit) out of a total of 18 nests (7 Blue Tit, 4 Great Tit, 7 Pied Flycatcher).  The predated nests were spread evenly throughout the wood.  A further visit in a couple of weeks will be made to check for second attempts, although there will be little chance of this unless the weather warms up somewhat - it seems so sad that that the birds have made the long journey from south of the Sahara only to have their eggs eaten and then to return with no young produced.

Perhaps the anti-midge net ordered last weekend will not see any use this year after all!


Friday, 6 May 2016

Pied Flycatchers Arrive in Force

A careful count on a morning visit  yesterday to one of our main Pied Flycatcher RAS woods, gave  a total of 19 males but only 1 female. The wood resounded to Pied Fly song and many were visiting nest  boxes although we found only two nests in the early stages. Last year we had 14 pairs using the nest boxes in this wood so the omens look good for this year. We also had a pair of Redstarts around the  box they used last year and for the first time in four years a singing Wood Warbler, while a Cuckoo called at the edge of the wood. A great morning!

Tits though were rather sparse. we had only four nests with eggs, on the same date last year we had nine but this years cold spring appears to have delayed laying both here and at our other nest box schemes.

Richard has done a great job searching for colour ringed Black-tailed Godwits in a flock of around 1750 which frequent the Leighton Moss RSPB reserve area on spring passage. He has sighted at least eight originally ringed on their breeding area in Iceland, and one from the wintering area in France. The information amassed is amazing, one of the colour ringed birds has ben sighted 111 times over six years and has visited four of the major estuaries in Britain. This year  most departed in late  April /early May. Two birds have already been reported from Iceland, both were last sighted at Leighton on 29 April and seen on the breeding areas in Iceland 4 and 6 days later.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Movement Continues

A further batch of recoveries and controls of Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Goldfinch adds more information to my last post on these three species.

Pride of place goes to a Goldfinch recaptured at Nigg Ferry on the Cromarty Firth NE Scotland on 21 April just 13 days after ringing in our area. This is our first Goldfinch from NE Scotland.  A Lesser Redpoll caught on passage at Heysham on April 19th had been  ringed 20 days previously in Staffordshire. Other birds  caught while wintering  in Cambridge and Notts. were also caught in  our  area on spring passage.

Two Siskin ringed in past years in our  area were caught in NE Scotland in mid and late April bringing our  total  of Siskin from this area to 25.

Finally a juvenile  Sand Martin  ringed in mid July on the River Lune was caught 17 days later in Western France bringing the total of our Sand Martins reported from France  to 52.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Finches on the Move

The spring move north of Goldfinch, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll is well underway,although it may be delayed somewhat by the unseasonably cold spring weather. Certainly all three have been coming to garden bird feeders, especially Mark's and Dave's in the south east of our area. In total we have caught around 3-400 of each species so  far this year.

This has produced a nice flush of recoveries adding further to our knowledge of these species wintering and breeding areas and their time of movement.The quickest mover was a Lesser Redpoll ringed in Powys on April10th and caught 6 days later by Mark. It is only our second Redpoll from Wales. Birds which had wintered in Surrey and Berkshire brings our total from   SE England  and the South Midlands to 36 showing this to be the main wintering  area for our passage birds.

A Siskin recaptured at Shebster (Highland) on the April 8th had been ringed by Dave  41 days previously and brings our total of Siskin from NE Scotland to 22 showing this to be the main breeding area of our birds for this early breeder.

We have much less information about Goldfinch which have been especially abundant at garden feeders this late winter/spring. Recoveries in spring in Argyll and Galloway bring our reports from these areas to the second and third only. The one recaptured in Galloway on April 2nd had been ringed by Dave just 10 days previously. But Marks retrap of a French ringed Goldfinch in late April breaks new ground as our first foreign report of this species.