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 31 July 2015

A Disappointing July

July has been a rather disappointing month for our ringing studies at  Leighton Moss  especially our normally most ringed species, Reed Warbler . Because of the windy and at times wet weather we have only been able to ring on 13 days compared to an  average of 19 over the past 5 years. Inevitably this had led to lower total catches.

Our main study species Bearded Tit  is doing reasonably well with 8 adult males and 9 adult females identified so far and a total of 24 juveniles ringed to date. Past experience suggests that the total breeding population is around 13-15 pairs. the numbers of juveniles ringed to date suggest a late poor first brood but second brood birds are now appearing.

We also run a RAS  for Reed Warblers, to date we have caught 131 adults which given the decline in effort is around average. However productivity appears low to date.  The 5 year average for our catch of juveniles in July is 223, this year it is only 93.  The Sedge Warbler 5 year average is 74, this year we have caught only 30. Willow Warblers averaged 75  so allowing for the decline in effort this years catch of 58 juveniles is reasonable.  Blue Tits despite their poor productivity in our nest box schemes also  appear to be doing reasonably well with this years catch of 54 juveniles- 5 up on the five year average. Lets hope August brings both better weather and more birds.


Wednesday 22 July 2015

A Dissapointing Season So Far

The poor season continues in the  reed bed at Leighton Moss. To date we have only ringed 18 juvenile Bearded Tits  this compares with 53 in the same period  last year. Our Reed  Warbler RAS is going well in catching adults, 106 so far  compared to 115 in the same period last year, half of which are retraps from previous years. But juveniles are disappointing, only 39 to date compared to 230 by this time last year.

Other warblers are doing better with similar numbers to last year of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler. Although the main influx for these species is usually  from late July on.

Why Reed Warbler productivity should be so low when the adult population appears normal is interesting. Is it due to the poor  spring weather or is it a late start to the season? One other factor is that for the first time half the reedbed is being dried out in an attempt to re-invigorate the reed in future years, the other half is being held at normal water levels. To date we have caught most of the juvenile Reed Warblers in the wet area.

Will be interesting to see how the season progresses. We will continue to study these important reed bed populations and their productivity This is the 19th year of our study

Sunday 12 July 2015

North Lancs Ringing Group annual report 2014

For the last three years North Lancs Ringing Group have produced annual reports.  The 2014 one can be found here:

North Lancs RG annual report 2014

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the report and in particular to all the land owners who permitted ringing on their land.

Previous reports are available here:
North Lancs RG annual report 2013
North Lancs RG annual report 2012

The Sand Martin that went away... and came back

Most years I will post something about a Sand martin being recaught in France, Spain, Senegal or Sussex.  These are always nice but of relatively little value beyond saying how quickly Sand martins leave the UK.  Incidentally for getting to France it's fairly quick with the first broods almost certainly heading south now and most juveniles being through France within a month of fledging.

Just occasionally we have birds recaught more locally but on passage.  One such bird was D335186 which was ringed near Kirkby Lonsdale in June 2013 as a breeding male.  On the 25th July 2014 it was caught at Walney bird observatory, presumably fattening up for the migration to West Africa although could have been breeding closer to Walney in 2014.  On the 9th July D335186 returned to Kirkby Lonsdale at the same colony as it was in during 2013.  This, more or less, confirms it was on passage at Walney and adds another small bit of information into the puzzle about what Sand martins do between breeding and migrating.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Reed Bed Ringing Latest Results

Still proving a rather difficult and disappointing season at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Our main study species Bearded Tit is well down,  60 juveniles by this time in 2014 only 16 so far this year. Reed Warblers, 70 juveniles last year only 17 to date this year. Sedge Warblers a little better,12 last year 8 this year. Blur Tits though are disastrous, we ringed at our normally most successful  site along the reed edge and for the first time in 25 years did not catch a single  blue Tit. Last year  we had ringed 80 juveniles, this year only 24.

I am certain that the cold ,wet and windy spring is the main factor behind these poor figures for ringing effort is only marginally down. Lets hope that  in the case of Bearded Tits and the warblers it has just delayed the start to the breeding season.  One complicating factor is that half the reserve is being dried out in an  effort designed to re-invigorate the reed in future seasons.There does  appear to be less insect life in the dry areas than the still wet areas. What effect this will have on productivity will be interesting to see.


Friday 3 July 2015

Thats More Like It

The good weather of the last two days brought good ringing conditions and a marked improvement in catch size. Highlights were the  9 juvenile Bearded Tits, six of which were new bringing our total for the year to only 9 compared with 64 in the same period last year.

In our first round on the first day we caught a French ringed  Reed  Warbler and later a British  Reed Warbler  control.  To date for our RAS study we have caught 68 adult Reed Warblers. This compares to 82 in the same period last year. The first bird caught today was an adult female Cetti's Warbler our first for this year, there are at least 5 males singing on the reserve. We also caught the first juvenile Blackcap , Willow and Sedge Warblers and Chiffchaff of the season.

Blue tits were  a little better  with 6 juveniles caught still down on  the 42  caught in 2014 and surprisingly 5 juvenile Coal tits, we only ringed 2 in the whole of July last year.