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 14 August 2012

Bearded Tits and Reed Warblers Mid Term Report

Our two RAS studies at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve have been difficult this year because of the foul weather and high water levels during July cutting our normal ringing effort by half. However the Bearded Tit population
appears to have recovered somewhat from last years low point of 12 pairs. To date we have caught or identified by their colour rings ten adult females and eight adult males. We would expect to pick up several more in our autumn ringing and especially on the grit trays from mid September on. So a conservative estimate is 15+ pairs. However the high water levels appear to have flooded out some nests for to date we have only caught 16 free flying young compared to 22 during the same period last year, although of course the reduced ringing effort should be taken into account. Reed Warblers are the commonest breeding bird at Leighton Moss, to date we have caught 189 adults. This compares to an average catch of 177 over the past 15 years. Of these 77 are retraps from previous years including a nine year old bird first ringed in 2003 and two five year old birds. We have also had two birds from elsewhere in Britain and a French ringed bird, we are awaiting full details. To date we have ringed 340 young birds although there is over a month to go yet it does look as though they too have suffered during July's poor weather for last year we ringed 821 young. Our catches of adult birds has declined over the last week. They appear to be preparing to leave for one we caught today weighed 14.2 grams at least 3 grams heavier than usual and it had a fat score of 4 John

Saturday 11 August 2012

Rapid swallow movement

Last night was our first visit to the maize field of the autumn. Swallow roosts in the North West are normally made up of a lot of new juvenile birds and relatively little else (Typically we get one control per 750 juveniles). As a result a ringed juvenile swallow early in the session was a welcome surprise. The ring looked very new, almost as if it had been put on a few minutes before. One of the team thought it sounded familiar and a similar ring number to ones used at Heysham earlier in the day. It turns out that the swallow had been ringed at Heysham Nature Reserve at 14:15 and caught near Hornby at 19:30. A movement of about 20km East North East in 5 hours. Not the longest of movements for a swallow however one of the fastest. Richard

Friday 3 August 2012

Birds Do the Unexpected

In our recent batch of recoveries there were three which appear quite unusual. The first was a Lesser Whitethroat ringed at Middleton Nature Reserve as a juvenile on 27th July last year and presumably a locally bred bird. It was caught on 5th June this year at Icklesham in East Sussex 423 km to the south. It was identified as an adult female, presumably on brood patch, suggesting it was breeding there as indeed you would expect in early June. It appears as though this bird has not returned to its natal area but is breeding some 420 km to the south. A similar scenario is possible with another Middleton ringed bird - a Sedge Warbler ringed as a juvenile on 26th June last year. It was caught at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire on May 5th this year 285 kms. SE. Although possibly this bird could still have been on spring migration when caught. The third was a Lesser Redpoll ringed at Heysham on April 1st this year at a time when many Redpolls are moving north. However this bird was caught six days later 72 kms. to the south at Bidston in the Wirral. Just a postscript to my last post on the low numbers of Sedge Warblers. Early August saw no improvement in the situation but we did catch a French ringed adult to add to the Dutch one we caught last week. John