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 September 2017

Remarkable day's ringing - Part 1 - Sanderling

Slightly out of the North Lancs RG area however a large team of ringers including many from North Lancs made a trip to the Sefton coast to ring and colour ring Knot as part of a study run from Norway looking at how Knot use the West coast of the UK to moult and winter and then to look at how this effects their migration route back up to Greenland and Canada to breed.  More on this project in part 2 which will follow in the coming weeks.

While we specifically targeting Knot we also caught some Sanderling.  In the last decade under 10 Sanderling have been ringed in North Merseyside and Lancashire so any Sanderling caught will be interesting and add to our understanding of their movements.  Out of the 370 Sanderling we caught 45 were already carrying rings.  The bulk of these 45 are from ringing in North Wales around Rhyl which is around 35km away.  These movement data are valuable as it is proof of the connectivity between moulting populations of Sanderling in autumn and their wintering grounds and how strong the link between the two are.

Three of the Sanderling were carrying colour rings.  All 3 were ringed in Iceland in May 2016 as part of a long running study of Sanderling.  Out of the thousands of Sanderling colour ringed on migration, breeding and wintering sites on our flyway all 3 we caught came from the same site.  Once again this strongly links the moulting population on the Sefton coast to the migration stop over site in Iceland.  One of these birds has also been seen near Rhyl in previous winters.

Having knowledge of inter-site connectivity is valuable in the conservation world because we can say, conclusively, that the loss of one site or habitat will have an impact on how the birds at one site use sites elsewhere.  Without such data and being limited to count data it would be easy to say the loss of one site would impact the peak count number of birds however with the connectivity data and count data there is a lot more evidence of a wider impact of the loss of one site. Luckily none of the sites in question here are under any threat.

For me this highlights the value of the ringing scheme; it's all about what the normal bird normally does rather than what the rare bird rarely does.

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