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, 16 March 2018

Grey Wagtails Suffer from the Cold Weather?

Over the last 18 years we have ringed 988 Grey Wagtails. Since 2008 we have been colour ringing those caught on passage along the coast at Heysham. Up to this year we have had 18 recoveries with all being either colour ring sightings, or recapture by other ringers, no birds have been reported dead. These recoveries show that our birds winter mainly in the  Chesire/Merseyside/ Greater Manchester area with single birds reported  from Wiltshire, Staffordshire and Pembroke.

However  this March we have had two reports of dead birds. The first was in Shropshire on March 1st. It was reported as being in poor condition indicating cold  weather. It had been ringed as a juvenile on September 25th 2017 at Heysham and had moved 137 km. The other was killed by flying into a balcony window in Conwy North Wales on March 13th. One can only assume that this bird was searching for food in an unusual  habitat during cold weather. It had moved 99 km and had been ringed on September 14th 2016.

So far the only local report of a dead bird during the cold spell was a Blue Tit . However we have been fortunate with only a short lived  covering of snow.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Bearded Tit Pair Remain Faithful


A regular visitor to Leighton Moss was very lucky to see a pair of Bearded Tits on the grit trays at 08.00 this morning. Visits to the grit trays are  most unusual at this time of year. Over the past 15 years of our colour ringing study at Leighton we have only had six grit tray sightings in March. Fortunately he  took some photos and we were able to work out their history.

They were both ringed as juveniles in July 2016  and first seen together on the grit trays on 2nd October 2016. Since then they have been recorded together on 28 occasions including 13 sightings between early October and late November 2016 and 15 times between late September and late November 2017.

Another excellent example of Bearded Tits forming pairs in their first autumn and remaining faithful in subsquent years.We have recorded such behaviour on many ocasions but this is outstanding.

Will be interesting to see if there are any more grit tray sightings in this cold spring. Fortunately we have no snow but it has been very cold. Usually by this time of year there are numbers of insects appearing for the Beardies to catch, but not this year so they are probably still  feeding on reed seed for which they need grit in the gizzard to grind up.
John


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