27 July 2010

Having 'Common' in your name doesn't mean you're well known

Some waders are notoriously difficult to catch but the Borders Ringing Group seem to have cracked it by following the fine examples set by Derek Yalden and Phil Holland in the Peak District, Ian Poxton in the Pentlands, and Bruce Lynch in the Angus Glens. So much so that they have been able to colour ring birds and give the opportunity for others to take part in tracking their movements.

Common Sandpiper NW05591 was ringed on 2nd May 2004 near The Ley, Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders and seen again at the same site on 26 April 2006, 28 April 2007 and 31 May 2008. No one knows where this bird has wintered exactly and this bird was not seen again until a ringer from the Spanish Ringing Scheme caught her on 17 April 2010 at Delta del Llobregat, where she was probably on her way back to Scotland.

View Common Sandpiper in a larger map

This is the group's first report of one of their Common Sandpipers being seen abroad. As more birds are colour ringed hopefully things will become clearer about their migration route.

Thanks to Tom Dougall for letting us know and Ray Murray for the picture.

23 July 2010

Lesser Whitethroat update

Yosef Kiat from the Israeli Bird Ringing Centre writes:

I am very glad to see the news about the Lesser Whitethroat on your blog!

Below are two pictures of Modiin Hills; the pictures were taken 4 days after Lesser Whitethroat Y117288 was ringed in this location! Modiin Hills is near my house and this is a productive and beautiful area for Sylvia Warblers in early spring migration (March).

In spring 2009 I ringed at Modiin Hills and caught 537 birds and 450 of them were Sylvia Warblers (334 of these Lesser Whitethroat).

Many thanks to Yosef Kiat for getting in touch.

21 July 2010

Contact with the Israeli Ringing Scheme!

We have just introduced a system of sending finding details of foreign ringed birds electronically to foreign schemes, reducing the time it takes to receive recoveries. One example of the this has been Lesser Whitethroat Y117288, which was caught by the NOA Ringing Group in Norfolk.

Once we had loaded the data and sent the file off to the Ringing Scheme we received the ringing details the next day! This bird was ringed in the Modiin Hills, Israel on 13th March 2009 as a second year bird, probably on its northward migration to this country and was caught here when it did it again the next year. This is a distance of about 3612km but obviously the bird had migrated all the way back in that time.

View Lesser Whitethroat in a larger map

Lesser Whitethroat is unique in that it uses this migration route which is not the usual route that many of our other migrants use through Spain. All five Israeli ringed birds recovered in Britain and Ireland have been Lesser Whitethroats and in addition we have had nine British-ringed Lesser Whitethroats found in Israel, three British-ringed Gannets in total and, oddly, a leg of a Black-headed Gull found in a plane at Tel-Aviv Airport.

This is the sixth ever recovery of an Israeli Lesser Whitethroat, three being caught by ringers, one dying in a factory at Weston-Super-Mare and one hitting a window near Gloucester.

Thanks to NOA Ringing Group and Dawn Balmer for the photo.

19 July 2010

Colourful Reunion

Ian Dillon writes:
I was cannon netting with the Wash Wader Ringing Group (WWRG) on the Lincolnshire side of the Wash at the end of last week. On Thursday we caught a very impressive 769 Dunlin in a cabbage field near Friskney. While extracting I came across a colour ringed Dunlin which I had ringed myself on its breeding grounds in Caithness in 2006. A remarkable and very unexpected coincidence. A few of 'my' Dunlin from Caithness have been resighted on the Wash at this time of year but it was still a shock to see one of 'my own' birds under the net.

The bird was NT86821, ringed as a breeding male on 23/06/2006 near Loch Caluim, Caithness. The female of this pair was also caught, as was one of the chicks. Unfortunately that was the last year that I caught any Dunlin there so I have no resighting information on this bird yet.

The photo above is of another colour ringed Dunlin (NT86814) from the project which was photographed at Faro, Portugal in 2009 on its southward migration.

Posted on behalf of Ian Dillon.

15 July 2010

Cetti reaches Cheshire!

While ringing at Rostherne Mere, Cheshire, Malcolm Calvert from South Manchester Ringing Group, was amazed to catch a Cetti's Warbler! This species has been moving steadily north over the past few years but is still considered very scarce in Cheshire.

V297794 was ringed at Upton Warren, Worcestershire as a juvenile female by Wychavon Ringing Group on 18/07/2009 and when Malcolm caught it it had a fully developed brood patch and then on the 2nd July he caught a recently fledged chick. This is a very valuable breeding record for this species for the Bird Atlas. This is the second breeding record for the county!

This bird was part of a colour ringing project which is used to monitor the movements of birds without having to catch the bird, so people that don't ring birds can play a part in this monitoring.

The map below clearly shows the northward movement of this bird.

View Cetti control in a larger map

Thanks to Malcolm Calvert for letting us know and also the photo.

14 July 2010

Great Geese!

The BTO reserve consists of a series of lakes that attract a variety species including Great Crested Grebe, Sedge Warbler and Kingfisher. Last night the Canada and Greylag Geese were the target of our annual goose round up. At this time of year the geese moult all of their flight feathers so are unable to fly and are slightly easier to catch.

Once we had guided them out of the water into a purpose made pen, they were taken out one by one and ringed. We caught 98 birds in total (85 Canada Geese, 12 Greylag Geese and 1 Barnacle Goose) and with 31 geese recaptured from previous years including several from 2008. Its easy to assume that these geese don't go anywhere but last year we had a report of one of 'our' geese, shot near Woodbridge in Suffolk! Who knows where these birds will turn up.

One notable capture was of Canada Goose 5207443, which was ringed by the RSPCA on 09/10/08 at East Winch, Norfolk (39km). This bird was recaptured at the BTO previously on 13/07/09.

View Goose Roundup in a larger map

Thanks to Laura Smith (BTO) for the photos.

07 July 2010

Incestuous pairing amongst Wood Warblers

Jerry Lewis writes:
I have been monitoring Wood Warbler nests in Larch plantations (Wentwood Forest, Gwent) for about 10 years, and densities are quite good at about 10 pairs per sq km. I ring most of the chicks so when I catch an adult I can usually see how the chicks have dispersed from the natal nest to the breeding site (males move further than females on average). Last month I caught a pair at one site which turned out to be siblings from a nest about 1400m away in 2009. I suppose that although this may not be particularly unusual, it is not often recorded. It was also interesting that 4 of the 6 eggs did not hatch (I seldom record unhatched eggs in nests), perhaps indicative of the "poor" pairing, and unfortunately the chicks were subsequently taken by a predator when about 10 days old.

Lee Barber adds:
Our ringers have ringed about 20,000 Wood Warblers so far and only 47 had been recovered by the end of 2008. The majority of the reports we receive about this species are from ringers doing this kind of valuable work but we have also received a few reports of birds found abroad. All of these were of dead birds and were from Italy (8), Morocco (1) and Algeria (1). We have had no foreign ringed birds being found or caught in this country yet.

Posted on behalf of Jerry Lewis and photo by Jez Blackburn

02 July 2010

Foreign Ringing Schemes are busy too!

I have just finished processing a batch of records from various foreign Ringing Schemes from around Europe. These concern birds ringed abroad and found or captured in this country. This is not unusual as they send us details every week but what is unusual is the size of this week's one.

My batch has 93 reports (Germany (12), Spain (19), Norway (60)) and I have highlighted some of the more interesting ones below.

  • Spanish swallow caught by a ringer in Leswalt, Dumfries and Galloway. 1996km
  • Norwegian Arctic Tern caught by a ringer in Teesmouth, Cleveland. 650km
  • Twelve Blackbirds, 8 from Germany and 4 from Norway caught by ringers last winter. 1033km maximum.
  • Norwegian Gannet found dead at Chesil Cove, Portland, Dorset. 2705km
  • Norwegian Kestrel caught by a ringer at Kessingland, Lowestoft, Suffolk. 1165km
  • Spanish Spoonbill had its colour rings read by a member of the public at Hackney Marsh, Newton Abbot, Devon. 1508km
  • Lots of Spanish Sand Martins all over the place.
So if you are a ringer waiting for the details of some foreign ringed birds then hopefully they will be on their way very shortly.

Thanks to Jez Blackburn for the photo of the Sand Martin.