Recent Highlights

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
Our best recent highlight was a Chiffchaff caught at Poole Harbour in Dorset just four days and two hours after ringing at Middleton NR,a movement of 370 km S. It weighed 9.4 gms when caught, a good weight for a Chiffchaff but only 8.1 grams when caught in Dorset.This is only our second Chiffchaff from Dorset and only our third record from the south coast. We have  had single birds from the Channel Islands, Portugal,Morocco and Senegal. Contrast that with a Sedge Warbler caught 484 km SE in Pas-de-Calais France just 16 days after ringing in late July at Leighton Moss.  It is our 54th Sedge Warbler from France 38 of which have been in August. To date we have ringed 4500 Chiffchaff and 14500 Sedge Warblers.I have posted recently about how faithful Bearded Tit pairs are once formed. Another pair seen recently on the grit trays is a g...
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Reed Bed Ringing Update

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
In a spell of  windy days it was great to have a calm morning on Wednesday this week allowing a visit to the best site for catching Bearded Tits. We were not disappointed, for we caught this years record catch  of 14 of which 11 were new birds all probably this years young. One of the retraps was an adult which we had not recorded this year, bringing our totals to 16 adult males and 10 adult females and 26 young birds. We normally add more adults to the totals this time of year from grit tray sightings of our colour ringed birds.The other major catch was 18 Reed Buntings all new birds. It appears to have been a good year for this species for we have ringed 154 this year so far, compared to just 58  last year. We caught surprisingly few tits just one Blue Tit, one Great Tit and three  Coal Tits. Flocks normally move into ...

Bearded Tits Gritting Season Gets Underway

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
It was great this morning for my arrival at 09.00 coincided with the  first birds of day on the trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Up to now there had been very few sightings. In the end there were three pairs each with their own grit tray, which was great for we could tell who was paired to whom.If you got three or more birds on a tray there was much aggression and chasing.On my return home I quickly looked up the colour combinations of these three pairs and their sighting history. The oldest bird, a male was  first ringed in 2014 so is in his 4th year. His mate was first ringed as a  juvenile in July 2016. In 2016 they were both paired to other birds but by October 10th 2017 they were obviously paired and we seen on the grit trays together on 5 days in October and early November.  One assumes that their previous mate...

Bearded Tit Gritting Season gets Underway

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
The sighting of a pair on the  grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve today signals the start of the gritting season. The pair sighted proved most interesting.They were  both 2016 youngsters, the female having been ringed as a nestling in May and the male as a juvenile in July. The were first recorded together on October 2nd 2016 when they were recaptured. They were them recorded gritting together on 10 occasions up to  November 11th. The next  sighting was on the grit trays on 17 September 2017 and over the next months they were recorded gritting together on 14 occasions up to November 14th. On April 3rd this year they were sighted together near a nest box and the female was seen at the same nest box on April 27th.These sightings again prove that Bearded Tits pair in their first autumn and remain together as a pair as...

This Years Ringing at Leighton Moss

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
With poor ringing weather  for the next few days, if the forecast prove correct, thought I would check how we are doing so far this year. With 1469 new birds so far we are already well past last years total for the full year of  1315.Including retraps Reed Warblers head the list with 474 compared to 345 last year. A close second is Willow Warbler, with 345 an increase of 182 on last year . Sedge Warblers at 130 saw an increase of 25 but Chiffchaff at 81 are still 20 behind last year although September is  usually good for this species, as it is for Reed Bunting which is already 28 up on last years 58.Of the less frequently ringed species Treecreeper  are amazing with 43 this year compared to just 27 in the whole of 2017. Blackcap went from 21 to 36 this year. Species which are down are mainly the tits  which usually...

An Amazing Sedge Warbler

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
A clear calm interval on Saturday morning gave us the opportunity to visit the Spring ride at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. The first round of our six nets produced a good variety, including a Cetti's warbler and a Nuthatch and four Sedge Warblers these were weighed  and  none showed any sign of fat. The average weight was 10.7 grams. The next round produced two more  Sedge Warblers one at 10.2 with a fat score of 1. Kevin extracted the other and was amazed  when he examined it , its body was completely covered in fat including the breast and he gave it a fat score of 8. We all guessed at its weight and the highest suggestion was 16 so we were all amazed when it came in at 19.3.grams. When I entered this weight on IPMR it came up with a warning that the usual highest weight was 17.9. So quite an intriguing birdAccording to...

How Long Do Birds Live?

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
With poor ringing weather I spent sometime updating our longevity records for our most regularly ringed species.I find it fascinating how this varies from species to species. Not only did I record the oldest bird but all birds surviving five years and above after ringing. The most amazing species is Reed Warbler with a record of 9 years and 314 days after ringing and with 44 records over five years. Compare this with Sedge Warbler with a record of only 5 years and 51 days and  the only one making 5 years. Granted we have ringed 17, 234  Reed Warblers almost 7000 more than Sedge Warblers and the retrap rate for Reed Warblers is 23% compared to 12% in Sedge Warblers. The high retrap rate suggests we are mainly catching a breeding population of Reed Warblers although recoveries show a small number passing through our sites from the f...

Quick Movers

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
  Two controls received today,  both at Icklesham in East Sussex on the south coast are good examples of the  quick movement of our summer visitors at this time of year. - A Sedge Warbler on July 31st just six days after ringing and a Sand Martin on August 6th 12 days after ringing both were juveniles and involved movement of 425 kms. They set me looking back at our data set for these two well ringed species.The latest control brings the total of our Sedge Warblers controlled along the south coast to 88, 36 of them in Sussex. Of these 19 have been under 10 days after ringing and a further 11 within 20 days. The shortest was just two days after ringing. Further afield we have had 53 controls from Western France of these two were under 10 days and four within 20 days,  the quickest was six days after ringing.The Sand Marti...
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Colour Ringed Mediterranean Gulls at Heysham

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
The numbers of Mediterranean Gulls appearing in late summer to mid/late September around Heysham outfalls has increased markedly in recent years, in contrast to the status at other times where there has in fact been a decline (spring passage) or no change (winter) for many years.  At least 70 birds were involved in 2017 and an absolute minimum of 74 have been seen in 2018.  This figure is reached by adding together the maxima for each age class with the highest day count of 62 being in early August 2018. Unfortunately, as regards deciphering the darvic numbers, the immediately local birders/ringers have struggled with ring reading and we have had to rely on better eyesight and better optics/cameras from outside in order to read all but the very occasionally obliging individuals.  Double-figures of Mediterranean G...

Early Population Indications

Posted on - In North Lancs Ringing Group
One of the great things about reasonably standardised ringing is that it gives you some insight into the productivity of the most frequently ringed species. It's early days yet but there are a few indicators from our two regular ringing sites in the Silverdale area. Two species stand out -Treecreeper we have already caught 29, the best we have ever achieved in a full year was  27 and weve still five months to go. We have already also caught 29 Long-tailed Tits two more than in the whoe of 2017.Of the species ringed in larger numbers Willow Warblers are doing well with 110 ringed and the best period for passage yet to come. We have caught a good number of moulting adults. After a slow start both Reed and Sedge Warbler are doing well. I feel that both these species  had a protracted arrival this past spring and this is reflected in ...