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)

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Reed Warbler RAS End of Term Report

 I have already reported that it has been a disappointing season for Reed Warblers at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, this I am sure is due to the poor weather throughout much of the season. This has rather restricted our activities and number of ringing sessions is down to 46 compared to an average of 61 over the past five years. Numbers of adult birds caught were only slightly down  at 140 compared to an average of 156. Of these 56 were re-traps from previous years. Our oldest bird was 7 years and 295 days from first ringing as a juvenile. Surprisingly it had not been re-trapped  until this year. We had 2 other birds in their 6th year.

Productivity was well down with only 263 juveniles ringed compared to 976 in 2014 and a five year average of 687. One can only assume that the cool, wet and windy weather during the bulk of the breeding season has taken its toll.

Our main study is Bearded Tits and these are also well down with only 31 juveniles ringed this year compared to 69 last year. To date we have sighted or re-trapped 16 adult males and 17 adult females compared to 21 males and 20 females last year. But there may be more to come as we get more grit tray sightings. The first high flying  behavior was seen yesterday- just a short flight then back into the reeds. Last Saturday we caught 24 Bearded Tits but only 1 was un-ringed. Recent ringing has produced good numbers of Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrests and Chiffchaff.


Sunday 20 September 2015

Bearded Tits Gritting Season Gets Underway

Bearded Tits have started gritting early this year at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. The first birds on the grit trays  were reported on  the 15th with up to 9 by the 18th. This is two weeks earlier than in 2014 when the first birds were recorded on the 27th. Last September was warm with lots of insects around, this last week mornings  have been cold and insects seem scarce. Bearded Tits feed on insects in summer but change to reed seeds in autumn for which they need grit in their gizzard  to grind up the harder reed seeds. It appears as though the diet change is underway earlier this year.

Today several small groups were gritting on both the trays and the gravel  path. We got the colour ring combinations of 10 birds of which 8 were adults. A tendency for adults to grit first has been noted in previous years. All 8 adults had been recorded gritting on the trays last year.  Birds often grit in pairs for in Bearded Tits there is strong pair fidelity and young birds  appear to pair up early in life.
At the moment most sightings have been between 8.30 and 10.00  although today a pair were still on the trays at 12:15. The trays are located just off the Public Causeway.


Wednesday 16 September 2015

The Disappointing Season Continues

Despite reasonable ringing weather our catches at Leighton Moss are down for most species.In our main study Bearded Tits, the catch of juveniles stands at 28 compared to 63 by the same time last year. But Blue Tits are reaching an all-time low with just 12 caught in the first half of September compared to 118 in the excellent productivity year of 2014. A visit to our woodland feeding station where Blue tits are usually the commonest species, we only caught 3 and both Great tit and Coal Tit exceeded them. Coal tits appear to have done well for at Leighton Moss we have ringed 18 in the first half of September compared to just 6 last year. Another mainly conifer breeding species Goldcrest is also doing well with 53 this September compared to 55 last year.

On a brighter note a visit to Jerry's Woodland edge garden produced a record catch of 9 Nuthatch. Kevin Briggs is starting a project on this species so we colour ringed all 9. Jerry has been recording the birds visiting his well stocked feeders and beside the 9 colour ringed birds he has seen a ringed only bird and two unringed together making a total of at least 12 visiting his feeders.


Sunday 6 September 2015

A Dissapointing Season

As we approach the end of the warbler season its time to take stock of the ringing totals for this year in our study at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve.

Reed Warblers are our most abundant breeding bird but productivity this year has been exceptionally poor. We have caught to date only 245 juveniles compared with 885 last year and a five year average of 695. Early in the season Sedge Warblers, which are mainly a migrant here appeared to be doing reasonably well but numbers have dropped and to date we have only ringed 95 juveniles compared to 252 in 2014 and a five year average of 255. Willow warblers have done better with 262 caught compared to a five year average of 324. Blackcaps  have a five year average of 43 but this year has produced 25.

Of resident birds, Blue Tits are well down with only 106 juveniles compared to 376 in 2014 and a five year average of 269. Todays catch of 43 birds included only 1 Blue Tit this compares with an average catch  of 15 birds in early September last year.  Goldcrests though are doing better we caught 12 today to bring this year total to date to 42 compared with 52 for the whole year over the past  five years.

Our main study is Bearded Tits  which go very quiet as they moult in August .  Today we caught 2 bringing our total young to date to 27 again well down on previous years.