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)

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Another Good Year

With all the data now in it was another successful year for the group with total handlings of 15,940 made up of 9152 new fully grown, 2950 nestlings and 3838 retraps or recoveries.

Top of the pile as usual was Blue Tit with 2399 handlings of these 994 were nestlings from our various nest box schemes and 472 retraps. Our RAS schemes featured highly with Pied Flycatcher having their best year ever with 944 handlings made up of 754 nestlings, 115 retraps and 75 adults. Sand Martins had a reasonable year with 757 handlings but Reed Warblers  at 389 were down due to access difficulties

We have five colour ringing schemes. Nuthatch with 773 records of which 651 were re-sightings was the most productive. Bearded Tits with 437 records of which 405 were sightings. These are both local species with only very occasional movements out of the area. Our Grey Wagtail scheme based mainly at Heysham BO is designed to study their movements through our area.We colour ringed 83 this year but had only four sightings out of the area, but our knowledge of the birds wintering area is building up after ten years of study.Stuarts study of Dippers on the Upper Lune resulted in 33 new adults and 193 nestlings being colour ringed . He has started a new study with Thomas, studying Common Sandpipers in the same area, the first year was highly productive with 50 adults and 42   young birds  ringed.

Finches feature highly with Mark and Daves garden ringing in the east of our area producing the most.  Goldfinch  at 944 was amazing when you consider that 10 years ago we ringed only 88. That year we ringed 457 Greenfinch this year we 451. Goldfinch have increased as a breeding bird in our area and really moved into gardens. Other finches included 381 Siskin 386 Lesser Redpoll and 125 Bullfinch .
John

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Garden Ringing

A visit this morning to Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden produced 72 birds of which 50 were new birds and 22 retraps. From late summer to this morning we have caught 501 birds of 21 species in 10 visits to the garden. Top of the pile is Blue Tit with 106 different individuals closely followed by Coal Tit with 90 then Great Tit with 60. These are individual birds so a bird caught several times is only counted once.It is nice to see Greenfinch making a come back we have ringed 53 so far this season double the numbers we ringed in the two previous seasons.By contrast Bullfinch are down with only four ringed compared to 28 last season, surprising for at another woodland feeding station ca 3 km away we have had a record year for Bullfinch. At the other end of the scale we have caught only four Starlings and two House Sparrows.

The woodland aspect of this well provisioned garden is reflected in the species we catch including 9 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 19 Nuthatch. The later is our main study species with all the birds we catch individually colour ringed and Jerry and Barbara record sightings as often as possible, they regularly record up to 5 or 6 different individuals in a session, but we only caught one today. This was first ringed 3 years and 330 days ago in January 2014. This was the 10th time we had re-trapped it but we have 255 sightings over the past almost 4 years. It is a male and for three years it came regularly to the feeders with its mate but she has now dissapeared.There is also another male sighted 3 years and 66 days after ringing, he also is a regular at the feeders. Of the 19 Nuthatch sighted. Seven are visiting regularly but the other 12 are quite irregular visitors.
Survivial though is interesting. Of the 18 Nuthatch recorded in the 2015/16 winter using sightings the survival rate was 50% using retraps it was only 23%.

John

Sunday, 17 December 2017

A Robin Morning

Visited our small woodland feeding station yesterday morning and was amazed that with just two small nets set only 5 metres apart we caught 9 different Robins of which 7 were new birds. The two retraps were one from last year which has been a regular this autumn and another ringed as a bird of the year in October. So far this autumn we have paid 5 visits and on the previous four visits we have caught 2 on two of them and 3 on one and none at all on an October visit.So far this autumn we have caught 14 different birds. This compares with just 5 in the same period last year.

I realize that the territories of this normally territorial bird often break down with an abundant food supply but I have never caught so many Robins. It could be that food is short in the surrounding woodland and farmland, but there are other feeding stations in the gardens close by. Or has there been an influx of continental birds?
John

Monday, 11 December 2017

Bearded Tit Gritting Report & Reed Warbler Survival


The Bearded Tit gritting season at RSPB Leighton Moss, has just about finished. In total I have received details of 355 colour ringed sightings of 69 different birds. Of these 41 are adults and 28 birds of the year. Gritting started early this year in mid September and it appears to have finished earlier than usual. The number of times that birds visit varies considerably. Two birds both adults, were recorded on 15 days. While 20 birds were recorded just once. The ones that visit the most usually follow the pattern of gritting for a few days early in the season and then have a second bout of gritting, probably to top up later in the season.
One of the joys of watching the birds so relatively close is the pleasure visitors get out of seeing these usually difficult to see birds so close and for so long. Last week I had three people who had been visiting the reserve for 20 year but this was the first time they had seen Bearded Tits.Their joy knew no bounds.

The high water levels following heavy rain has restricted our ringing activities so I had time to look at our Reed Warbler data. Reed Warblers are one of our longest lived small birds. Of 1173 recaptures of adult birds I found the numbers of each age class from one to ten years as follows- One year 622, 2 year 239, 3 year 147, 4 year 85, 5 year 38, 6 year 23 ,7 year 7,8 year 8, 9 year 2 and 10 year 2.
The thought of a small bird making 10 return journeys to West Africa is really amazing. Their navigation skills are incredible.
John

Knot update

On the 22nd September 2017 519 Knot were colour ringed at Formby point (see previous posts).  In the first couple of weeks we received about 100 sightings from the local area with good numbers feeding in land at Caldy wildfowl collection.  I knew Black-tailed godwit fed on swollen grain readily however I had never heard of Knot doing this.

In the 74 days since ringing we have now received over 860 resightings of over 350 individuals from 15 observers.  So far four birds have been seen in Ireland (Dublin bay and Wexford) and five to Morecambe bay with the remainder remaining around Liverpool bay. 



To put some some of scale on these data in the last 10 years a total of 328 Knot have been re-encountered (mostly retrapped) within the same estuary as their ringing site. In just over 2 months the efforts of 4 main observers have nearly tripled that total.  Assuming the level of observer effort continues and ideally increases we will be able to achieve estimates of survival at a resolution never before achieved on a UK knot population before. 

Additionally with a moderately consistent observer effort periods of emigration from the population should be detectable by seeing an increase in relative frequency of observations of the remaining birds.  Immigration is much harder to detect unless there is an arrival of colour marked birds from elsewhere.  Using sightings of these birds going elsewhere and observed emigration we will build up a picture of how individuals that moult in Liverpool bay use other wintering grounds in Northern Europe. 

As always any sightings of colour marked Knot with an orange engraved flag should be sent to Jim Wilson who co-ordinates this colour mark scheme.  Many thanks to Rose Maciewicz, Peter Knight, Richard Smith, Steve Hinde and the 11 other observers of colour marked Knot so far. Every sighting is valuable to the project and the results are so dependant on individual observations.

Many thanks to Richard Smith for the photo.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Bearded Tit Update

Our birds continue to use the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. So far this season we have had reports of 307 sightings of invidually colour ringed birds. Of these 183 were males and 124 females. This involves 31 Males and 28 females. Of these 7 are 3 years old, 8 2 years,21 one year and 23 are this years juveniles.

The number of visits they pay to the grit trays varies greatly.Nineteen have been recorded on one day only. At the other extreme one male has been seen on 14 days. At each visit birds usually stop for 2 to 10 minutes scratching through the grit before moving on to feed on the reed seed.

Up to 3 unringed birds have been seen at the trays recently so we were very pleased to catch 3 unringed birds today bringing our total of new birds ringed this year to 33. One question observers at the grit trays often ask is wether taking on so much grit at this time of year increases the weight of the birds.Out of interest the average weight of the 6 birds caught today was 15.7 gms. The average weight of birds in June is just 14.1. Small sample but suggestive!

The reserve staff have put out three new trays in another area of the reserve but there has been no sightings over the past three weeks. It obviously takes them time to locate them. My friend Janusz in Poland put out trays three years ago with no success until this year but now they are using them regularly.
John

Thursday, 26 October 2017

A Record Day for Bearded Tits

Just got full details of Steve and Jan's sightings at the grit trays yesterday. In total they identified 39 different colour ringed birds and a minimum of three unringed birds making 42 in all a record for one day. They spent just over 2 and a half hours to amass this data. Best of all they identified three adult females that were new for the year so we now have recorded 24 adult males and 17 adult females. They identified 2 other birds which had not been recorded on the grit trays so far this year making 59 in total. Not far off last years total of 65 and they continue gritting well into December.
There is much chasing mainly by the males but we have three grit trays close together so chased birds usually move to a different tray. Some birds have been taking reed seed from the seed heads right after gritting. My impression is that more are feeding on the reed this year. Could it be that the present really high water level has covered the reed litter where they usually catch insects?

Thanks to Steve and Jan for their hard but enjoyable work. Their only grumble was they got repetitive strain injury from writing down all the colour ring details!
John