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)

Monday 21 March 2022

Group Update and Recent Recoveries



2021 was another difficult year for the group due mainly to the covid restrictions, in total we handled 7012 birds. The largest numbers ringed  was 795 Pied Flycatchers in our 725 nest boxes that we have in the  Lune valley and Bowland woodlands. Second came Goldfinch with 548 mainly ringed at garden feeders. Recently we have caught some numbers of Siskin as they move into well stocked gardens as their natural food supplies dwindle. We know from our previous ringing that most of our passage or wintering Siskins come from the Scottish breeding population with 39 from North Scotland    and 21 in the Galloway area and just one each in Norway and Sweden. But they have certainly increased as a breeder locally, we have ringed 97 in May mostly juveniles in recent years. All bar one have been recaptured locally except one which was ringed as a first year female on May 5 was caught again in Moray 401 km north 11 days later! A late mover which probably didn’t breed that year

Another unusual recovery was a Starling ringed as a juvenile at Flamborough Head on 12 June  and caught by Aidan Branch in Morecambe in mid-January. This is our first British bred Starling to show an east to west movement. All other movements have been south in autumn or north in spring. Possibly it was caught up in a flock of visiting continental birds moving west in autumn. Certainly, many of the Starlings wintering here are drawn from as far away as Russia for we have had over the years 75 recoveries in the breeding areas right across Northern Europe.

The wonderful information that colour  ringing birds can give is so well illustrated by a Black-tailed Godwit which was seen on the Allen Pool twice this week. It was first colour ringed on 15 July 2010 in North Iceland as a breeding adult male. Since then, it has been reported 203 times over the past almost 12 years. It has followed a regular pattern, leaving Iceland and going first to the Wash and Suffolk coast as early as late June in one year but usually in July and August.  They moult there before moving across to the Dee estuary for the winter and then to our area in March before moving back to Iceland. Thanks to the careful observations of Richard du Feu, Phil Grounds and Neil Harris we have some amazing information about their journey from here to Iceland. in 2015 it was sighted on the Allen Pool probably on the morning of 29 March, next day it was in Iceland! That’s 1370 km in probably about a day and a half! Amazing! In 2017 it was last seen on 26 March on the Allen Pool and was in North Iceland four days later.

Other recoveries reported included Lesser Redpolls ringed on autumn passage were in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Hampshire in winter. A Goldfinch in Pas-de-Calais France in December, only our third Goldfinch from France, another one wintered in Shropshire. Back to colour ring sightings, an adult Dunlin ringed on 1 August along the mid Wales coast was perhaps unexpectably seen on the Allen pool 10 days later and 200 km NNE at a time when it would be expected to move south. One of the most fascinating things about ringing is finding out what movements birds really undertake.

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