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 April 2012

Back Issues of Various Journals

A number of back issues of various journals have come into my possession. These are available free of charge and may be collected by arrangement from my Torrisholme address.  If anyone is interested, please contact me by email (address on side panel).

The main items are:
Bird Study  1966 - 2011  (year 2003 missing plus some odd single parts)
Ringing & Migration  1975 - 2011  (odd parts missing)
Atlantic Seabirds  1999 - 2006 (odd parts missing)
Seabird Group 'Seabirds'  1984 - 1998 (odd parts missing)
The Ibis  selected editions between 1967 & 199

alan draper

Thursday 26 April 2012

A Record Breaking Bittern

These amazing photographs of  a Bittern wearing ring No 1291702 was taken by Brian Howson from the Lower Hide at Leighton Moss on April 24th. This bird was originally ringed as a nestling on the 8th May 2000 by the RSPB research department. Using DNA they established that it was a female. The colour of the bill in the photograph below also establishes it as a female. This makes it 11 years and 356 days since ringing and establishes a new British longevity record for Bitterns. Extending its own previous record of ten years and 220 days set in December 2010. Ringed birds have been seen on occasions during the intervening period but this is the first time that the bird has been conclusively identified since then. Previous conclusive sightings have all been in winter although ringed birds have been seen but not identified during the breeding season. The question is will it breed at Leighton this year? The lack of any booming males  makes it appear unlikely.  Many thanks to Brian Howson for his excellent photographs.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Paired for Life

Colour-ringed Bearded Tit

This week I have been watching a  pair of Bearded Tits feeding their first brood. My main reason is to get the colour ring details as part of my long term study of this charismatic species.

Once I had obtained the colour combinations I can search through my records and  track their history. The male (pictured above)was ringed as a nestling on 25th April 2009. The female was ringed as a juvenile on 10th July in the same year. The male was seen or retrapped on five occasions later in 2009 but the female was not seen at all.

In  2010 the male was seen or retrapped seven times and the female only twice. But on November 11th they were seen together on the grit trays. In October and early November 2011 they were seen together on the grit trays acting as a pair on 12 days. They were obviously  paired and the male was seen to chase off other males.

These sightings confirm  many other sightings that show that Bearded Tits stay together as a pair riight through the year.

Thursday 19 April 2012

French Colour Ringed Avocet

 A colour ringed Avocet has been on the Allen Pool at Leighton Moss since late March. We have now got full details of this bird and they are detailed below. It was hatched in France and  is now almost four years old and appears to have been breeding in France in 2010 assuming that Avocets don't breed in their first year. But there were no sightings at all in 2011. Most interesting that it should apparently change breeding sites. From its behaviour it is a male and it is now mated and the pair have a nest. Thanks to Dave Talbot for the photo.
Combinaison Date Localité Commune Département Pays Latitude Longitude
RWO/RL 20/06/2008 Bas Boulais SAINT-MOLF 44 France
RWO/RL 30/06/2008 Le Bergaud MESQUER 44 France
RWO/RL 08/07/2008 Le Bergaud MESQUER 44 France
RWO/RL 22/07/2008 Saline de Bé MESQUER 44 France 47°24'30" N 02°26'13"W
RWO/RL 18/09/2008 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 19/09/2008 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 30/09/2008 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 16/11/2008 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 02/12/2008 Barrage d'Arzal CAMOEL 56 France 47°29'5 6''N 02°23'55''W
RWO/RL 02/04/2009 Petit Falguérec SENE 56 France 47°37'14' 'N 02°44'09''W
RWO/RL 04/07/2009 Saline au Duc MESQUER 44 France 47°24'4 .67"N 2°28'31.89"O
RWO/RL 07/07/2009 Saline au Duc MESQUER 44 France 47°24'4 .67"N 2°28'31.89"O
RWO/RL 23/08/2009 Saline de la Lande SENE 56 France 47°37' 14''N 02°44'09''W
RWO/RL 03/10/2009 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 21/12/2009 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 04/03/2010 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 16/03/2010 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 01/04/2010 Saline Verte GUERANDE 44 France 2°27'36. 547"W 47°19'1.793"N
RWO/RL 06/04/2010 Saline Duchesse MESQUER 44 France 2°26'39.8 8"W 47°23'42.699"N
RWO/RL 16/04/2010 Saline au Beau LA-TURBALLE 44 France 2°2 9'47.733"W 47°20'13.125"N
RWO/RL 27/04/2010 La Saline Neuve MESQUER 44 France 2°28'4 4.354"W 47°23'49.537"N
RWO/RL 07/05/2010 La Saline Neuve MESQUER 56 France 2°28'4 8.305"W 47°23'35.096"N
RWO/RL 18/05/2010 Les Gahins MESQUER 56 France 2°27'0.564"W 47°24'34.244"N
RWO/RL 18/05/2010 Saline de Ré MESQUER 56 France 2°26'28.3 31"W 47°24'29.77"N
RWO/RL 25/05/2010 La Saline Neuve MESQUER 56 France 2°28'4 8.305"W 47°23'35.096"N
RWO/RL 31/05/2010 La Saline Neuve MESQUER 44 France 2°28'4 4.354"W 47°23'49.537"N
RWO/RL 06/07/2010 Saline du Moricet LA-TURBALLE 44 France 47°20'08"N 02°29'50"W
RWO/RL 07/09/2010 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 10/11/2010 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 22/12/2010 Banc de Strado MUZILLAC 56 France 47°30'1 6"N 02°27'23"W
RWO/RL 26/03/2012 Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve SILVERDALE Lancashire England 54° 9'58.52"N 2°47'49.44"O

Saturday 14 April 2012

Changes in Garden Birds

With the garden ringing season ending I thought it would be interesting to look at the changes in populations of birds ringed in Andrew Cadman's garden at Over Kellet over the past 12 years.

Andrew has only a small garden just 10 m by 8 m. right on the edge of the village. He keeps it well stocked mainly with sunflower hearts and a little nijer and his ringing effort has been reasonably consistent over the period.

Perhaps the most interesting finding has been the build up of Bullfinch and Lesser Redpoll in recent years. The first Bullfinch were caught in 2005 with just seven ringed. For the next three years no more than four occurred then in 2010 19 were ringed and in 2011 an amazing 36 were caught. The increase in Lesser Repolls has been even more dramatic with the first (1) in 2008. By 2010 26 were ringed and in 2011 an incredible 62 were caught.

An increase in sightings of these two species at garden feeders has been commented on by several other people in our area but Andrew's effort have given us a good numerical idea of the increase use of garden feeders by these two species.

Goldfinch have been garden feeder birds for much longer with 32 ringed as long ago as 2000. But they too have increased dramatically in recent years to reach a peak 360 in 2010. Greenfinch have always been regular garden feeders but Andrew's ringing totals show a reasonably steady population of between 30-50 from 2000 to 2008. There then followed a catastrophic decline in 2009 when only four were ringed. This coincided with the nationwide outbreak of trichomonsis disease. However they bounced back in 2010 when 185 were ringed and reached a peak of 216 next year.

The most irregular visitor has been the Siskin which usually visit in late winter into early spring. From 95 in both 2000 and 2004 to none at all in 2005 to an amazing 334 next year then only four in 2007. Small numbers only until 91 in 2011 and 76 this last late winter -spring. The 740 Siskin ringed have produced a picture of their movements. Birds caught on spring passage have been found wintering in Shropshire , Hertford, Hampshire and Northern France. During the breeding season they have been found in Highland (6) Aberdeen (2) Argyll and Bute (2) and Sweden .

Of other regular species there has been less spectacular fluctuations in population but just to give some idea of the other regular species visiting the feeders the peak numbers ringed in a year have been Blue Tit 261, Great Tit 72, Chaffinch 109 and Coal Tit (63).

Friday 13 April 2012

The Twite Have Left, But One Is Sighted

The last recorded sighting of Twite in the Heysham Harbour area this year was on 28th March. This date is 10 days earlier than the last seen at the end of winter in 2011.

In general, the birds’ behaviour this winter has been a little different to previous years, possibly a result of more abundant natural food here. We did not have a regular large flock using the feeding station, but small groups coming and going. These groups often seemed to consist of different birds and were often present for a relatively small part of the day. It seems certain that the groups were part of the larger local population as they always were virtually all wearing rings fitted during the Winter, but the mix of colour combinations present varied. In previous winters, there has been a larger, more stable flock visiting more regularly and staying around for longer.

An interesting report of a Twite ringed at Heysham Harbour sighted at Whitworth Quarry, Rossendale on 1st April 2012 has just been received. The colour combination tells us that this individual was ringed very recently (on 3rd, 15th or 25th Feb 2012).

It would appear that this bird has moved from its wintering area at Heysham directly to its likely breeding grounds, but not in western Scotland as we are accustomed to. We are aware of only two previous sightings of Heysham birds in the Pennines and one of a Pennine bird at Heysham:

Ringed Oct/Nov 2009, Heysham - controlled Close Moss, Marsden 14/06/2010.
Ringed Oct/Nov 2010, Heysham - controlled Swales Moor, Halifax Feb/Mar 2011.
Ringed 24/09/2004, Light Hazzles - controlled Heysham 01/11/2005.

Our initial thoughts from ringing and recoveries/sightings in the early years at Heysham were that our birds mainly went up the western coast of Scotland to breed, and that the Pennine population was separate. It may now be that some do indeed move to the (much closer) Pennine breeding grounds.


Friday 6 April 2012

Lesser Redpolls on the Move

The spring passage of Redpolls is now underway . We know from past ringing that some of these passage birds winter in the south of England with recoveries in Hampshire. Greater London, Nottingham, Suffolk and Surrey. We have probably extended the wintering range further for we have controlled a French ringed bird this spring, so we await full details with interest. A recent batch of recoveries produced a further control in Surrey ringed in our area in early August and caught wintering in Surrey in early January.

Other recoveries received recently included our first long distance movement of a Grey Wagtail. One ringed on passage as a juvenile in late August was found wintering in early December in Wiltshire 295 km South. A winter road casualty produced our fourth Black-headed Gull from Norway.

Another road casualty on the face of it produced our longest movement of a Treecreeper. A bird ringed at Heysham in October and well out of normal Treecreeper habitat was found 28 kms.ENE in North Yorkshire. How ever we learnt that it had been found in the radiator grill of a delivery van which had covered a wide area locally so there is a marked uncertainty about the exact locality of its finding.