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)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Pair Fidelity and Early Pair Formation in Bearded Tits

Bearded Tit nesting is in full swing at Leighton Moss. This year we are using small trail cameras to  record the unique colour ring combinations of nesting pairs as part of our 23 year long study of this isolated population. We are hoping that the cameras, (installed under our Schedule 1 disturbance permit) will also reveal the identity of any nest predator.

We already have the colour combinations of two pairs and they  show how Bearded Tits pair in their first summer/autumn and once paired remain together through the winter if of course they both  survive.

The  first pair was ringed as juveniles in 2011. The first time they were seen together was on 4th October of that year. Since then we have recorded them together on 14 occasions mainly on the grit trays in autumn. The best period was in October 2013  when they were seen gritting as a pair on  6 days. Bearded Tits are difficult birds to keep up with because they spend all their time deep within the reed beds where access is very limited and is only really possible by boat. But the grit trays are a good focal point in autumn.

The second pair are in their first year. The female was from a first brood in 2013 but the male was from a late brood and was ringed still in juvenile plumage on 5th September. They were seen on the grit trays as a pair on 3 occasions between late November and mid January.

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