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 27 May 2011

Redpolls on the Move

A recent batch of recoveries included details of most of the Lesser Redpolls that we controlled in March/early April. They show that the birds are moving through at this time of year from wintering areas in the south of England up to the Cheshire area. One had wintered in Surrey. Another had been ringed at Shooters Hill Greater London on March 21 and caught at our feeders 11 day later.

The breeding areas of these birds also featured with a control of a bird ringed in Southern Norway in late April 2009 and controlled here on March 21st. We have also had news of a bird we ringed in mid February and the ring was photographed in Mull this May, full details to follow. The Redpolls appear to be quite mobile at this time of year with several movements between three of our feeding stations.

Other recoveries included a Leighton Reed Warbler controlled in France in August 2009. A Coal Tit ringed in Swinton Gt. Manchester in January moving 44 km to our area in March. A Chaffinch ringed in November at Heysham and controlled 86 km north in North Yorkshire in mid March.

A Nuthatch ended its days almost five years after ringing flying into glass having moved just 8 km,


Thursday 19 May 2011

Bumper year for nestboxes

This appears to be the best year for a long time, possibly even the best year ever for Pied Flycatchers.
Provisional results from four woods in Roeburndale are that there are 29 nesting attempts by Pied Flycatchers (some of which have just hatched) with 5 Redstart - all in one wood (the best I can remember). Also 2 nuthatch (uncommon in my boxes) .... oh, and 47 Blue Tit and 21 Great Tit attempts!


an update - another wood checked yesterday - and 5 more pairs of Pied Flies, 4 more Blue Tit and 2 more Great Tit

Saturday 14 May 2011

Upper Hindburndale, updated on 19/5/11

Up here the most noticeable feature has been the number of Blue Tits, usually relatively scarce this far up the valley. Out of 67 boxes:

4 x tit spp (part-clutches at last check, updated details not to hand (19/5))
9 x Great Tit
17 x Blue Tit
17 x Pied Flycatcher (one seemingly deserted, rest active)
1 x Redstart (unfortunately predated (in 'open'-front box))
1 x Nuthatch
& a few boxes with bits of moss and grass stems, now presumed abandoned

The deserted Pied Flycatcher (5 eggs) is c6 metres from a nest with 9 eggs! Only one male seen in this area. All the female Pied Flycatchers bar two with incomplete clutches have been examined (by 18/5). 9 were already ringed and 5 were fitted with rings. Of the 9 already ringed, most were from the nearby Roeburndale catchment (full details not in yet for birds caught on 18/5), one seemingly from elsewhere and one ringed as a nestling at New Laithe Farm (Newton-in-Bowland) in 2009, caught as a nesting female at Sykes (Slaidburn) in 2010 and now moving even further north and nesting near Botton Mill, upper Hindburn in 2011 (16km from original ringing site).

Thanks to Colin Middleton, Jenny Batty, Kate and Mick Lewis and Liz Whitfield for permission to put up the boxes and access the land for monitoring. Also the monitoring team of Jean Roberts, Louise North, Kate Lewis, Paul and Tess Adams

Pete Marsh

Friday 13 May 2011

Pied Flycatchers Have a Record Year

To add to other comments about the abundance of Pied Flycatchers. Two woods in the Kirkby Lonsdale area, always considered rather marginal for this species and usually holding only one or two pairs over the last few years, this year have seven and three pairs respectively.

One can only assume that following last years good productivity they have survived well in their African Wintering Quarters

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Pott Yeats, Littledale

As others have reported, it seems there are good numbers of Pied Flycatcher and Redstart about this spring. My nestboxes in Littledale have not been too successful for these species over the last 2 to 3 years, with only 1-2 broods being successful. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I have blamed this on other members of our group for putting up too many new boxes in prime habitat and stealing all the birds!
However, this year (with even more new boxes in other woods) mine are better occupied.
There are 39 boxes which so far contain 15 Blue Tit, 9 Great Tit, 5 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Redstart and 1 Nuthatch. 7 Boxes are unoccupied thus far (some of which have been seriously "squirrelled"), although there could still be the odd late starting Pied Flycatcher. It is unusual here to see more Blue than Great Tits. 2 of the Pied Flycatchers are only at the nest building stage and so may not progress.
Last year only 2 broods successfully fledged from the whole wood so let's hope that this year is better.
Alan D

Sunday 8 May 2011

Recent sand martin movements

In 2010 North Lancs RG ringed 1,659 and retrapped 449 Sand Martins. This was 100% of the Lancashire total and just 5 birds shy of 10% of the UK total. With this kind of number ringed I hoped for two things, firstly a lot returning this year and secondly some nice recoveries. Given we are yet to have our first sand martin session of the year I will have to wait a bit longer. In the latest batch of recoveries we did have a Sand Martin recovery to Senegal which is the fifth we've had to Senegal from North Lancs RG.

Shortly afterwards we had another recovery of a Sand Martin ringed in 2009 which was controlled in Somerset at a spring roost.

We are still waiting on two French ringed birds that we caught last year. Hopefully we'll hear about these soon and with luck catch some of the Sand Martins ringed in Africa over winter and further south during their migration.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Latish Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers

Despite a load of birds arriving in record early time, notably Pied Flys, male Willow Warblers, Redstarts and the two Whitethroats, the last two weeks have not been plain sailing by any means for migrants arriving via west Africa/Iberian peninsula/France. Quite a lot have filtered through in recent days, however, including an influx of female Willow warblers in last week's easterlies (see e.g. Hilbre blogsite)

A box was checked today, which was one of an "out of the way" cluster of four previously unused boxes. This check was inspired by a 'new' singing male Redstart in the area. In five days, the box had gone from empty to Redstart with single egg! The last five days has also, in the same area, seen the arrival of at least two male and one female Cuckoo and at least one, probably two further additional singing male Redstart (one near an empty box). A similar incident last week at a nearby site involved removing a queen wasp from of a box which had been only fitted with a blue tit-size hole. This hole was then enlarged by Paul Adams and the box was immediately commandeered by a newly-arrived Pied Flycatcher with a nest already completed!

So keep checking your 'empties', even if they are a bit out of the way!

A couple of local movements as determined by female Pied Flys caught on the nest today by Jean R. at Botton Mill, upper Hindburndale: V470146 ringed as a pullus at Wray in 2007, also nested at Botton Mill last year. X578116 ringed as a pullus at Outhwaite, Roeburndale in 2009


Threes a Crowd

Kevin Briggs had an interesting nest box visit today. Looked in a box to find two Blue Tits sitting on top of one another. One bird flew out and joined another on a nearby branch. The third bird then left the nest box to reveal 19 eggs. Obviously two females mated to the same male. Will be interesting to see how many young they rear.


Friday 6 May 2011

Good year for Redstart and Pied Flycatchers

This is the best year so far for Redstart with 5 clutches in one of the woods in Roeburndale, including one with a female that had been ringed as a breeding female in 2008. It is also a good year so far for Pied Flycatchers with 13 clutches (six up from last week), including this one with the smallest egg I have ever seen. One female was ringed in a nearby wood in 2006 - amazing that a bird this small can make it to Africa and back five times

Lets hope the cool, wet weather next week doesn't knock these birds back


Wednesday 4 May 2011

Ringed Arctic Terns

During the easterlies this last few days it has seemed like the whole northern European population of Arctic terns has been dropping in to feed on Heysham Power Station outfalls before heading off north-east!

Yesterdays phenomenal minimum of 8,153 birds included a group of about 80 resting on the beach within ring"examining" range

They included 5 with what were presumed to be British C2 rings and these obviously contrasted with 3 birds bearing bulkier rings. Potentially the most interesting was one which initially appeared to have metal rings on both legs. On 50 x, this appeared to be a "long white ring" with some inscription on the right leg and a 'bulky' (c/p C2) metal ring on the left leg. The only possibility on the Dirk Raes site is one from a Dutch RAS scheme. Odd? - until you note the 50 Black Terns accompanying these birds

Are a proportion of these Arctics also overshooting? We will never know - if only they had been 50 metres on so closer!

Monday 2 May 2011

An Excellent Nest Box Season

This looks like being one of the best nest box seasons ever. Have visited my six schemes and all have record numbers of occupied boxes in two schemes this is almost 95%. A little early to give a full breakdown by species as some especially Pied Flycatchers are still at the building stage but already I have four Tawny Owls compared to only two last year. There is a good spread of start dates over these four, the first is pictured - a brood of three that I ringed today. Two others still have eggs although close to hatching and the other has chicks which will be ready to ring in ca a weeks time. Nuthatch's are doing well with five nests compared to only three last year, again quite a spread with three incubating and two completing laying.
There was a general expectation that tits might has suffered in the cold winter but they have apparently survived well and numbers are well up. Marsh Tits are not regular nest box users but located one today also have my first Coal Tit using a nest box.