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)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Bearded Tit Gritting Season Gets Underway

Spent nearly two hours watching the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve this morning, hoping to get sightings of our colour ringed Bearded Tits. Just about to pack up when a male appeared at 09.33 and spent ca 4 mins gritting.

At home checked its details on IPMR. It had been ringed as a juvenile in June 15th 2015 and had been seen at a successful nest in one of our reed wigwam nest box in early June 2016. The fascinating thing is that it was one of the first birds to start gritting in 2015 being seen on the trays first on 20th September.In total it was recorded on the trays on 11 days in autumn 2016 between September 20th and 23rd October.Bearded Tits need grit in the gizzard because this time of year they change their diet from insects to the much harder reed seed. A German study found up to 850 pieces of grit in one gizzard in autumn but only 35 in spring.

Like last year it looks like an early start to the season. In the three years 2012 to 2014 gritting didn't start until September 29th. When in full swing gritting usually starts ca an hour after sunrise and last for around 2-3 hours from late September to mid December. The grit trays are along side the path which crosses the reserve.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Reed Warbler RAS Results

Just about the end of the Reed warbler season and a chance to compare this season's results with previous years. This is the 20th year of our study at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve where we run a Reed Warbler RAS as a side line to our main study of the Bearded Tit populations.

Due mainly to poor ringing weather especially early in the season our visits at 33 have been lower than usual,this compares with 46 in 2015.

We caught 104 adults(61 new and 43 retraps). This compares with 140 (84 new and 56 retraps) adults last year, but allowing for the drop in effort early in the season it does suggest a possible small drop in the breeding population. Productivity though has been better with 350 juveniles ringed compared to 267 last year and possibly a few yet to come if we get out in the next few days.

Of the retrap adults the oldest was 8 years, one at 5 years and 5 at four years. A highlight was the catching of a Spanish ringed bird ringed on autumn passage in North Spain, only our fifth from that country although we have had 29 from France, 8 from Portugal and 4 from Morocco.One of our juveniles ringed on July 6th was caught 31 days later at Icklesham East Sussex making 51 Reed Warblers we have had reported from Sussex.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Good Productivity by Resident Species

It certainly looks as though most of our resident species have had a good breeding season. To date we have made four post breeding season visits to Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden and caught 375 different birds. This compares with last seasons 13 visits between August and April when we handled 571 individuals. We are using the same 100 foot of mist nets throughout

So far this season we have caught 90 Great Tits compared to 85 in the whole of last season. Bullfinch at 25 compared to just 21 last season and we have already caught 22 Great Spotted Woodpeckers the same as last season. Blue Tits totaled 153 last season but already this season we have caught 133. Most other species have done really well the one exception is Coal Tit with only 16 so far this season compared to 115 last season in total. Few Coal Tits breed locally and we usually get an influx from breeding areas further north later in the season.

Good productivity is shown by the high numbers of juveniles in the catch. Blue Tits are typical 91% were juveniles compared to 63% last season after poor productivity.


Sunday, 28 August 2016

Blue tits have Excellent Productivity

After an excellent breeding season in our nest boxes with good sized broods and very few dead youngsters we expected good numbers of tits this summer in our mist netting sites. Our predictions proved true and although I have not got full details from all Group members as yet, all report good numbers of young birds, especially Blue Tits during August. For the catch of 240 that I have the data for, the percentage of adult Blue Tits in the catch is very low at just 5% suggesting excellent productivity. This compares with 2015 when after a poor breeding season the adult percentage was 37 % suggesting very low productivity.

Great Tit suggest a similar pattern although we ring smaller numbers (74) but Adult percentage is 16% compared to 31% last year.

Willow Warblers continue to pass through in good numbers, although as would be expected in smaller numbers than mid month but Chiffchaff have increased.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Willow Warblers Still on a Roll

A record catch of 88 Willow warblers today at Leighton Moss brought our total catch for the year to 382, 97 more than the whole season in 2015 and they usually continue to pass through to early September. Suggests an excellent breeding season for this species. Included in today's catch was an adult control, will be interesting to see where it originates from. Other birds caught included 42 Reed Warblers and 17 Sedge Warblers, a Tree Pipit and a Whitethroat added variety.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Willow Warblers on a Roll

Our recent catches at Leighton Moss have been dominated by Willow Warblers, partly because the nets in the reed bed have been exposed to wind reducing the catch of Reed Warblers and Bearded Tits but the  nets near willows are more sheltered. However its interesting to compare this years catch with the  same period over the past three years. To date this year we have caught 225, this compares with an average catch of just 107 over the past three years. This suggests good productivity this year in common with many other species. Our local Willow Warblers  have maintained their populations. However ringing recoveries from previous years suggest that  the bulk of the passage population originates in Scotland with 15 recoveries there mainly in the breeding season. We have also ringed more Chiffchaff although their main passage period is usually a little later.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Further Evidence of an Excellent Breeding Season

I have already reported about the good productivity of our nest box schemes,  now our ringing sessions provides further proof . A  further visit to Jerry and Barbara's garden brought the total Great Tit catch  for the month to 81 which compares to  last years total from August to April of 85! Blue Tits were 91 compared to 153 in the whole of last season. Great Spotted Woodpeckers an amazing 21 one short of last seasons total and Bullfinch 24 last month compared to  only 21  last year. All proof of an excellent season with almost all of these birds being juveniles.

At our reed bed site at Leighton Moss  because of poor weather we visited in July on four less occasions than in 2012 but allowing for this Willow,  Sedge  and Reed Warblers are all well up as  are Blue Tits. Blue Tits are interesting, the percentage of adults in last seasons catch was17% this year it is only 2.5% a sure sign of good productivity.

Just got the results of our Pied Flycatcher RAS in the Lune valley. We  ringed 483 nestlings which is 163 up on 2015 even though the breeding population was ca 10 pairs lower this year. and there was high predation at two sites.

Will be interesting to see if this good productivity results in good ringing catches as the season progresses .