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 25 June 2010

Bearded Tit & Reed Warbler Progress Report

With the fine weather meaning we can ring regularly the numbers of these two species caught has increased steadily.

To date we have caught 25 adult male Bearded Tits this compares with 27 in the whole season through to November in 2009. However we have only caught 8 adult males (compared with 18 in 2009. So the excess of males continues.

Young birds are starting to flock and to date we have caught 29 juveniles.

To date we have caught 113 adult Reed Warblers and with 6 weeks or so of the season to go yet this compares well with the 166 caught last year. Juveniles are now appearing in numbers a few days earlier than in 2009.

John Wilson

Wednesday 23 June 2010

they think its all over .... ?

Just when I thought all my nestboxes were finished I find today another Pied Flycatcher on eggs, a Redstart on eggs and another Redstart with a clutch just hatching. This last bird had already successfully fledged a clutch from this box and must have re-laid only a few days after the others left the nest.

131 young Pied Flycatchers have been ringed in my boxes so far from 21 successful nesting attempts (including some from Richard's boxes).


Friday 18 June 2010

Reed Warbler Progress Report

Our Reed Warbler RAS (Re-trapping Adults for Survival)at Leighton Moss is going well. To date we have caught 71 adults. Of these 43 were already ringed in previous years. The breakdown when first ringed is detailed below-

Year of Ringing Number
2002 1
2004 2
2005 2
2006 3
2007 12
2008 9
1009 19

Of the 19 from 2009 seven were ringed as adults and 12 as juveniles.

The oldest bird is eight year old with the two 2004 birds both ringed as adults so are at least seven years old. Our oldest Reed Warbler to date was just short of ten years.

This is the 14th year of our study and we average around 165 adults a year but with the rest of June and the whole of July yet to go it looks as though we are on track to achieve this total. Most adult birds have left by the middle of August.

John Wilson

Sunday 13 June 2010

Is there a surplus of Male Bearded Tits at Leighton Moss This year?

Our long running study of Bearded Tits at Leighton Moss has continued, but the first indications are that there is a marked surplus of males this year. To date we have caught 20 adult males but only three females. Of the 20 males nine of them did not have a brood patch. In this species male and female share the incubation and both develop brood patches. The implication is that the males without brood patches are unmated. All of the nine were last years birds and several of them have been re-trapped in different sites so are moving around the reedbed.

We usually have a small surplus of males each year. There is quite a bit of evidence, based on retrap data to suggest that males are more likely to get caught than females. In the 18 years of the study in only 3 years 2003,2004 and 2006 did we catch more adult females than males.

However it is early days yet and further catches should clarify the situation. Young birds are now flocking and all indications are that it could be a good season.

One explanation for the apparent surplus of males may be that they survived the past cold winter better than the females. News from Poland is that the breeding population has crashed from ca 50 pairs in my correspondents study area last year to only 2 males and a female this year following an extremely cold and snowy winter. In another site he found four males and one female.


Saturday 12 June 2010

Pied Flycatcher Optimism Short Lived

Like Paul, in his post of 8 June, I too was full of optimism for this season when 11 nests were built in boxes in Littledale. 9 clutches of eggs were laid (the nest in one box did not progress) and one nest, when it was completed was found to be a Redstart. (Compare with last season here when only four nests were started, with not one being successful.)

However, things went rather wrong from then on. 6 of the clutches remain cold and clearly the adults have given up. The eggs are untouched, therefore not predation, but what? One adult female was found dead on the nest - possibly the victim of a night predator. Perhaps the other birds were not fit enough after their winter away to continue?

Three broods of young, however, have either fledged or are about to fledge.

The Redstart is still incubating and I really hope it will be successful as this is a very uncommon nestbox occupant in this wood.


Friday 11 June 2010

Where Do Our Reed Buntings Go in Winter?

Reed Buntings are common breeding birds at a few sites in our area but in recent years they have become quite scarce in winter. A recent recovery of a female ringed at Leighton Moss on 27th September and controlled on 11 March at Northorpe Fen in Lincolnshire is a further clue as to the wintering areas of our birds. Other winter recoveries have been in South Lancashire (3) Cheshire (3) Nottingham, Dorset and Kent.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Bumper year for Pied Flycatchers

There appear to be really good numbers of Pied Flycatchers this year in the boxes I have been monitoring (this includes three in Richard's boxes in Roeburndale and two, still on eggs, in David's boxes in Littledale) with 29 clutches laid, of which 24 have so far produced young that are likely to fledge.

Tit numbers also appear to have been good, including a brood of 13 Blue Tits ringed yesterday


Tuesday 1 June 2010

Blue and Great Tits have an Excellent season

Returns from four of our lowland nest box schemes suggest an exceptional year for blue and great tits.

After the cold winter we rather expected a decline in breeding populations and there was a small decline in great tits from 53 occupied nest boxes in 2009 to 46 this year. Blue tits on the other hand increased from 34 to 38 pairs, Now doubt the proximity of these four schemes to winter feeding stations helped them survive the winter. Early returns from our upland schemes suggest a small decline in both species.

Despite the cold dry spring clutch sizes were normal. Although in a few cases there was a short gap in the laying cycle which is most unusual. Brood sizes have been very high and they seem to have grown and feathered very quickly.

One unusual event was the finding of a young blue tit in a brood of 6 great tits. It was as far advanced as is larger siblings when ringed.

John Wilson