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)

Thursday, 20 October 2016

A Record Day

Yesterday was something of a record day. We caught 4 Cetti's Warblers in one net line. We have only caught singles before of this recent colonist. Up to 5 or 6 birds have been singing at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. One assumes that our catch originates from these breeding birds. However last October we controlled a bird which had been ringed just 38 days previously at Wood Walton Fen in Cambridgeshire a movement of 299 km in 38 days. So you never know.

We also caught our third Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn and 8 Siskin the best catch so far this autumn.

But the most unusual catch was of a pair of Bearded Tits with consecutive ring numbers. I was amazed to find that they had been ringed as nestlings in the same nest in April 2014. We have ringed 673 nestling Bearded Tits as part of our long term study of this species. Many have been retrapped as adults but this is the first time we have recorded siblings as an apparent pair. Our observations do suggest that Bearded Tits do form lasting pairs. Interestingly neither of these birds have been recorded on the grit trays over the past two years.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Bearded Tit Gritting Season in Full Swing

To date we have recorded 50 different colour ringed Bearded Tits using the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Of these, 27 are adult birds and 25 of this years young. No un-ringed birds have been recorded to date.

The first birds have been arriving on most days around 08.00 and the last leaving around 11.30. Wednesday the 12th was the best day this week when due to dedicated coverage by Alan, Pauline and Judith Gallagher no fewer than 28 birds visited the tray to stock up on grit as they change their diet from soft insects to the much harder reed seed.

To date in our ringing study this year we have identified 21 adult males and 17 adult females. Of these 38, at least 27 have visited the grit trays. Productivity appears to have been rather low as to date we have only caught and colour ringed 27 young birds of which an amazing 25 have visited the grit trays. We have this year been restricted to just three sites due to difficulty of access so we may have missed some but you wold expect unringed birds to start appearing.

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Bearded Tit Weekend

A great weekend for the 24th year of our Bearded Tit study at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. With excellent ringing weather on Sunday and much activity on the grit trays. In total we recorded 43 birds. This included 21 mist netted including six not ringed before and 22 on the grit trays. All the grit tray sightings were of colour ringed birds, not an unringed bird in sight! So far for our RAS study we have caught or sighted 30 adults- 16 males and 14 females. Two were first ringed as juveniles in 2013, 13 in 2014 and 15 in 2015. We usually pick up more adults over the next 10 weeks or so of the gritting season. I estimate that the breeding population this year is ca. 25 pairs.

Most of the birds visiting the grit trays at the start of the season are adults. This was true of a party of five today.A male and a female gritted together and were obviously a pair. They gritted together in early October 2015. If they both survive Bearded Tits seem to pair as juveniles and remain together for life. We keep detailed records of all sightings. Many birds are recorded gritting on only one day but some occur on up to 17 days. Often birds grit early in the season then have a break and return later.


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Nuthatch Project Latest Report

The Group started colour ringing Nuthatch in spring 2015 with the view to starting an RAS (Retrapping Adults for Survival) on this species.Our activities have been centered round the well wooded Silverdale area where we have two feeding stations and seven nest box schemes. In total we have colour ringed 75 birds of which 44 have been nestlings.

Most of the adults have been ringed in Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden. They have meticulously recorded almost daily sightings. Between mid August and early April we colour ringed 22 adults there.Of the 16 ringed in August and September 2015 no fewer than 11 were still visiting the feeders a year later. This gives a yearly survival of 69.8%. We have had five ringing sessions in their garden since late summer and have only retrapped two giving a survival rate of only 12.5%. Certainly shows the value of colour ringing and close observation and recording and plenty of bird food!.

We did however catch and colour ring seven new birds on our five ringing sessions. Obviously young birds moving in. Two of them were from the same brood and had been ringed in a nest box two km. away. A bird ringed for the first time in late February and not seen again was sighted at feeders 3 km away from July on.

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.