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 22 August 2018

Knot in odd places

My short working description of the purpose of the ringing scheme is 'Finding out what normal birds normally do rather than what rare birds rarely do' and similarly most BTO surveys are about 'what's there, what's not there but not what's rare'.  Just occasionally odd things do happen and they can be interesting too.  They're often what sparks an interest that lasts a lifetime.

My interest in Knot began one evening in late September 1999 when I handled my first Knot at Wolferton, Norfolk.  What made this juvenile Knot interesting was it had a metal ring above the knee and by the time I had read as far as 'Buda' on the ring it was in someone else's hand.  For me this is a moment that I'll never forget and also a lesson I pass on to everyone starting out wader ringing - Always check above the knee for rings.  It would have been easy to miss, particularly in the dark at the end of a long week of wader ringing.

The 'Bird ringing in Britain and Ireland in 2001' report mentions this bird:

HGB KX5227 is unprecedented. Few Knot are caught in Hungary each year, only 20 were ringed between 1985 and 1998 (Varga pers comm), and this bird was one of only two Knot, both juveniles, which were caught in walk-in traps on autumn passage in 1999. Just 10 days later the bird was mistnetted on the Wash. This will have been a canutus Knot from the Siberian population on passage to the wintering grounds in Africa. Given the number of Knot passing through Hungary and the scarcity of canutus now visiting Britain (Boyd & Piersma 2001), this recovery is quite amazing. SVS 4294422 is the eighth Swedish-ringed Knot to be reported in Britain & Ireland.

Since this exceptional record another Hungarian ringed Knot has been caught in Porsangerfjord, Norway in spring suggesting that at least some of the Knot reaching Hungary are islandica. I would guess they have overshot the west coast of Norway on the way south, gone down the east coast of Sweden and through central Europe however this is pure speculation.

Broadly speaking all the sightings of the Formby Knot have been as we expected with many in Iceland in spring, the odd one in Norway both in spring and autumn, a couple of the Netherlands, many in Scotland and Ireland but without exception on the coast.  This weekend Twitter sprung into life with a photograph of a flagged bird at Blithfield reservoir in Staffordshire.  Sadly the Knot was too far to read the flag so I thought we would just have a cohort record rather than an individual.  Luckily another photographer had a closer photograph and we now know this bird's identity.  Up until this record this Knot had done what we expected - stopped over in Iceland in May after spending at least some of the winter on the Sefton coast.  This is the first recovery of a Knot in Staffordshire.

With the big tides this weekend I'm sure a lot more sightings will be made and maybe this one will have reappeared in a more expected place.

No comments: