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)

Tuesday 26 June 2012

A Poor Breeding Season?

Today dawned calm and clear, an excellent day for mist netting in the reed beds of Leighton Moss . So we went to one of our best sites with good expectations. After four hours we had caught only ten birds. Seven adult Reed Warblers and one each of Reed Bunting, Blackbird and Blue Tit. Returning home I checked our catches for the same period last year and we were catching 35 to 50 a day including the first batch of young Reed and Willow Warblers. It has been a rather late season this year. However one wonders if the atrocious weather over the weekend with heavy rain which had pushed the water levels up by ten centimeters and strong winds was the main reason for the low numbers.Catches over the next few weeks should give us the answer. To date we have caught 77 Adult Reed Warblers 12 Adult Bearded Tits our two main study species. These numbers are very similar to the same time last year. John

Thursday 21 June 2012

Nest Box Round Up

A wet and windy morning allowed me to sort out the nest box details for my three lowland study areas in the Arnside/Silverdale AONB. My impressions were that it had been a rather poor season so it was interesting to look at the figures for Blue and Great Tits. Of the 50 Great Tit nests recorded 37 (74%) produced some young. However brood size at fledging was only 4.3. The lowest I have recorded over the past 12 years. Blue Tits occupation rate is always lower with 35 nests of which 21 (60%) produced young. Brood size was higher than Great Tits at 5.9 but still well down on previous years. The very changeable weather this spring has certainly taken its toll. One other factor has been the number of broods taken by Great Spotted Woodpeckers enlarging the hole and taking the chicks. A total of six in all, three of each species. No doubt the young tits shouting for food attracts the woodpeckers which also may have been struggling to find food. John

Saturday 16 June 2012

More Pied Flycatcher News

Visited my two smaller woods which are part of our RAS project on this species. These woods  along the upper Lune valley have seen a marked increase in  numbers using our nest boxes over the past two years.

Prior to 2011 we never had more than two pairs in both woods, but last year both woods had five pairs and this year  one has six pairs and the other five pairs. Ringing of the adults has shown excellent survival. At one wood we ringed all five males in 2011. This year we managed to catch four males and three of them were returns from last year. Similarly for females with two out of four caught this year being returning birds.This wood is rather unusual for Pied Flycatchers, not the usual mainly mature Oak woods they seem to prefer elsewhere in the area but it is a mature alder wood. On our last visit all 11 nests had broods of healthy looking young, only hope that the forcasted bad weather of the next two days has no bad effect.

 At the end of the season Kevin Briggs is collecting Pied Flycatchers nests to see what materials they use. Will be interesting to find if nests from the alder wood vary from the Oak woods in their composition. Many thanks to  Pete Woodruff  and Sheila and Mac Cooper for help in recording these woods.


Wednesday 13 June 2012

A Pied Flycatcher Round Up

Spent four hours yesterday with Ian Hartley catching the male Pied Flycatchers in one of Paul's nest box study areas in Roeburndale. In total we caught males at 11 boxes and also two females that Paul had missed. The first discovery was that one hard working  male was feeding young at two adjacent boxes. This is the third time that we have proved this to happen in our study.

Of the ten males that we caught all bar one was already ringed! A quick check on our database showed that they had all been ringed  as nestlings either in Roeburndale or the adjacent valley of Hindburndale so had not moved very far at all. This is admittedly a small sample but taken with data from other woods  it appears that male Pied Flycatchers are more likely to return to their natal areas than the females.

Most of the nests had well grown young. That there was plenty of insect food within the wood was very clear to us- we were almost eaten alive by midges!  You had only to brush against  foliage to  have caterpillars on your clothing. The highlight of the day was the discovery of a Woodcock nest with four eggs.