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)

Friday 28 August 2009

Interesting Lesser Black-backed Gulls

There has been a little bit of Mute Swan-like ring-reading 'fatigue' with the Lesser Black-backed Gulls which have been ringed at Tarnbrook, Walney and the Ribble over the last few years.

Please, however, continue to report them e.g. they are developing interesting life histories in relation to winter travels to Iberia and north Africa.

There are also some other very interesting ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls birds around. Mark Breaks recently unearthed an Icelandic-ringed bird at Stock Reservoir and Steven Grimshaw recently read the following :

Ringed: Orfordness, Suffolk as pullus on 12/7/03
Seen: Laayoune Plage, Western Sahara 19/1/04
Seen: Great Harwood, Blackburn 19/7/09

This is the first Lancashire sighting of any of the 4,000 ringed at Orfordness over the last 13 years. Note that it stayed in Africa during its first winter as is not unexpected, but perhaps not usually this far to the south. Why is this relevant to 'our area'? Note the Blackburn date (and age of the bird) and can we assume it has changed breeding sites to Tarnbrook?


Wednesday 26 August 2009

Reed Warblers Prosper

Large numbers of Reed Warblers are ringed each year at Leighon Moss during our Bearded Tit study. Since 1997 we have registered this ringing in the BTO's RAS scheme which attempts to monitor the survival of adults. With the ringing effort being roughly similar each year we get an idea of population levels as well.

Our average catch of adults in the 12 years from 1997 to 2008 is 176. This year to date we have recorded 166- slightly below average but 13 up on 2008. We may yet catch a few more although most adults appear to leave during the period late July and through August. In the 12 years studied we have only recorded 5 adults in September, although many juveniles are caught in the first half of September.

Reed Warblers appear to be long-lived. This year we have caught one first ringed in 2002, 4 in 2003 and 1 on 2004. This year adults seem to have stopped a little later than usual with 9 adults caught between August 16th and yesterday(25th)- in some years we have not caught any adults at all in this period. Of the 9 adults caught this year 5 were well above the average weight of 11 grams with the heaviest being 14.3 grams. These 5 all showed signs of laying down fat reserves in readiness for migration.

Recoveries from our ringing give some clues as to the timing of this migration. We have had 11 adult Reed Warblers caught on passage along the south coast of England the earliest was on August 2nd and most were during mid August. Tracking the migration further, our earliest date for an adult on migration along the Atlantic coast of France is August 10th.

We also monitor productivity and this year seems to have been well up to average with 430 juveniles ringed to date.

John Wilson

Monday 17 August 2009

Of camcorders and Med Gulls

Now is the time to look out for Mediterranean Gulls and various other species such as Cormorant with darvic or even metal rings. There are a few ring-reading specialists in the county, notably at Brockholes Quarry where Bill Aspin and Tony Disley have a really good track record for "sorting out" ringed birds, bordering on the 100%!

This is due to a mixture of highly-skilled digiscoping and 'blasting away with a camcorder'. Anyone interested in ring-reading should consider a camcorder

Bill uses an old Sony PC - 110 with mini DV tape

These used to be £1,400 at the start of the millenium, but you can now pick them up for under £300

You will need an adaptor (37 mill) which screws on to the camera and placed over the cap of the telescope - best set the zoom at x 20.

A videograb at this setting gives 680,000 pixels which is quite adequate for most ring-reading. Some modern camcorders now deal in megapixels e.g. some of the crystal-clear postings on Surfbirds.

Back to the Meds. In the area at the moment are:
1) Polish-red-ringed adult around Lancaster Quay and nearby playing fields
2) Formerly Belgian-darvic-ringed adult which lost the this ring in summer 2008, but the metal ring can still be read as Mark Prestwood managed to do yesterday. This lives in the Morecambe Broadway area during the non-breeding season
3) Czech metal-ringed bird which lives around Heysham Harbour. Not absolutely definitely seen yet this autumn, but a bird with a ring in the right place (see above photo) has.
4) Surprisingly reappearing , and of unknown future status:

Arnhem 3651898 & darvic
Ringed: De Kreupel, Netherlands: Pullus: 5/7/07
Seen: Heysham power station outfalls: 1-2/9/07 (prob since 28/7/07)
Seen: Morecambe Broadway area: 16/8/09

There may be some interim sightings of this bird which we dont yet know about. They will be inserted here if this is the case.

Sunday 9 August 2009

Nest Box News - Pied Flycatcher

One of the Groups major studies is of pied flycatchers. Within the Lune valley woodlands we recorded 57 occupied nest boxes this year. Most were very successful and 264 nestlings were ringed. We also caught 50 adults at the nest boxes of these 30 were already ringed. Breeding birds appear to show a remarkable site fidelity with 12 ringed as adults caught back in the same wood the following year many of them to the same nest box, only 1 moved and that was just 2 km. Many nestling also return to the wood where they were borne of 18 birds ringed as nestlings 8 returned to the same wood and 10 moved only to the next wood. Three were a little bit more adventurous moving between 20 km and 8 km.

However we caught 3 birds which were not ours being marked by other ringers outside our area. A look through our files shows that many nestlings do not return to their natal area. Over the years we have had 24 records of nestlings that moved away to breed in their first year. Of these 10 moved under 50 km 7 between 50 and 100 km, 5 between 100-200 km and 2 over 200 km. Three adults have also moved, 2 between 50 and 100 kms and one female moved 261 kms to Powys.

John Wilson