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 August 2017

Reed Bunting Movements

The recent catching of a Reed Bunting at Middleton Nature Reserve which had been ringed while wintering in Shropshire set me looking at the movements we have recorded for this partial migrant. Reed Buntings feature in our ringing at Heysham Middleton and Leighton Moss reserves. Over the years we have ringed 4553 up to 2016.The recaptures and recoveries of these show that a number winter around the Gt.Manchester/Merseyside /Cheshire area with 9 recoveries there in winter. Others move a further with 3 reports from the Midlands and 5 along the south coast from Dorset through to Kent.The only bird to buck this southward movement was a bird ringed by us in October and recaptured in Tyne & Wear in the following January.

Of birds ringed in spring and summer only 10 were retrapped at the ringing site, 8 in November and one each in December and February. But we have four records of birds moving to local feeding stations one flew into a window and 2 were caught by cats!
John

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Sedge Warblers on the Move

A report of a Sedge Warbler ringed by the Group on July 25th this year and caught 12 days later in Kent 412 km SE set me looking at all the similar quick recoveries we have for this species. Over the years we have ringed just over 14,000 Sedge Warblers which has produced 172 recoveries most at ringing stations on the south coast with some further a field in France (51)Spain (3) Portugal(1) and Senegal (1).

Our quickest mover was one ringed on August 13th 2004 at 10.00 and caught next day at Coventry at 05.50 a distance of 220 km. Sedge Warblers are night migrants so this gives some idea as to how far they can fly in a night. It weighed 12.7 gms at ringing but only 11.7 on re-capture.

Of other short time(under 10 days) recaptures we have two each at 4 and 5 days,4 at 6 days and one each at 9 and 10 days all along the south coast from Devon to Kent. Other than one in late July all the others were ringed and re-caught in August. Not all the birds we ring are local birds for we have caught three ringed in Perthshire ,two 7 days previously and one 14 days.

Two short time recaptures from France were 6 days after ringing, a distance of 677 km and 12 days a distance of 563 km. Remember most of these are young birds making their first migration at around three months old. Amazing!
John

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Nest Box Statistics

Further to my last post where the Group had 141 nest boxes occupied by Pied Flycatcher of which 121 were successful I now have data for the occupation rate of Blue and Great Tits in 24 of the woods we record they show some interesting differences.
The 11 woods at lower altitude mainly on the limestone where Ash is the dominant tree species and Pied Flycatchers do not nest Great tits outstrip Blue tits. In total in these woods we had 113 Great tits but only 62 Blue Tits. In contrast in the higher altitude woods with Oak dominant and where Pied Flycatchers also occur we recorded 143 Blue Tits but only 62 Great Tits.
To what extent this is due to the number and size of natural holes is difficult to assess. But the differences occur in comparatively new woods in both areas. Productivity was good as it was with Pied Flycatchers with very few nests lost to predation or dead young in the nest.
John

Friday, 21 July 2017

Pied Flycatchers on a High

Now got full results of our Pied Flycatcher study. In total we had 141 occupied nests of these 121 successfully produced some young. This compares with 120 and 65 last year. Although we missed ringing a few broods we managed a record total of 722 nestlings 223 up on 2016. A total of 65 new adults were ringed and 113 adults retrapped. Most of these were birds first ringed in our area but we had two from Durham and one from North Yorkshire ringed as nestlings there, but now nesting in our woods.
There was little predation this year compared with 2016 when weasels played havoc in some woods. Perhaps due to this year being a good vole year. Brood size at ringing averaged 6.5 compared with 6.0 last year with 20 broods of 8 nestlings and one of nine.
Of the retrapped birds, 17 were 3 years old, six four years,one five and three six years.Interesting to see how many return to nest next year after this record year.
John

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Good Morning at Last

The recent wet and windy weather has delayed the start to our Reed Warbler and Bearded Tit RAS Studies at Leighton Moss RSPB. But today was great, we could only set four nets but we caught 15 Reed Warblers, all except a short tailed juvenile were adults.One of the adults had a Spanish ring. We all thought it was one we caught at the same site last year but IPMR showed it was a different bird. So we await details with interest.

We also caught two Bearded Tits-the first juvenile of the year and an unringed adult male. We rarely catch unringed adults as we are so successful in catching juveniles. in 2016 we caught 41 adults and all were already ringed. Observations over the past few days suggest that the second broods are fledging. The weather looks good for next week so hope we can catch up on our studies.

Pied Flycatchers seem to have survived the poor weather. Went yesterday to a wood which being at a higher altitude than our other woods is usually a bit later and unlike the other sites is mainly alder. Two years ago the four nests in the alder area lost all their young although the two in the oak woodland survived. This year one nest box had dead young but another had already fledged and the remaining five looked Ok.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Pied Flycatchers Record Year

Now got all the data in for our Pied Flycatcher RAS for the 18 woods we survey in the Lune Valley. We have a record 98 occupied nest boxes 19 up on last year and 8 more than our previous best year of 2015.
To date they are doing well.We visited nine nests yesterday all had young and seven were old enough to ring with an average brood size of 7.2 including two with eight young.Have got the first details of the adults that we have caught. They show the usual pattern of adults mainly returning to the same wood in successive years but birds ringed as nestlings mainly move away from the natal wood to other woods in the Lune valley with a few moving outside our area. The two extremes from past years were birds found breeding in Denmark and Germany after being ringed as nestlings in our boxes.
We have many broods yet to ring hope that the heavy rain forecast for early next week doesn't harm them.
John

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pied Flycatchers and Barn Owl do Well

Yesterday's visit to my main wood for Pied Flycatchers saw a further increase. We now have 16 pairs compared to just 11 last year. One at least already has young. Reports from other members of the Group who monitor nest boxes suggest a similar increase. Last year we had a total of 79 occupied boxes. Our peak was 90 in 2015. Good chance of reaching 100 this this year! The only downside was a blue tit nest which had been woodpeckered. Removing the young after enlarging the nest hole.

We checked our Barn Owl box and were surprised to find 5 young and two eggs. Last year they had only two eggs and reared one young. We ringed the two oldest chicks. A clue as to their success this year was the pile of ca 10 voles or mice in the box, obviously a good year for small mammals.
On the way home we ringed a further 3 Lapwing chicks and our first Curlew of the year, it dashed across the road in front of us.
John