30 November 2011

October oddities and November notables

Grampian Ringing Group definitely got the distance prize for October with a Sandwich Tern turning up in Liberia, West Africa (5679km in 488 days). This chick was ringed at Sands of Forvie Nature Reserve, Aberdeenshire last year and was caught by children playing on the beach in Robertsport but unfortunately died.

We also received 8 reports of Lesser Black-backed Gull wintering in Portugal and all but one were live sightings. Mute Swans were also very evident with lots of sightings but some hitting overhead power cables and one or two in poor condition. Unusually we didn't get many reports of Barn Owls in poor condition but we did get 12 reports of car victims. All of the ones that died were ringed as chicks this year. One bird, strangely, was seen flying straight into a wall and then a parked car before being rescued and taken into care.

There was also a nice Blackcap report "found and released" on 25th October in Tizi-Ouzou, Algiers, Algeria that was ringed near Sleaford, Lincolnshire in May this year (1839km in 174 days). Another notable passerine was a Chiffchaff ringed in Northumberland in August and was found dead after connecting with a vehicle in Candresse, France in October (1257km in 37 days!)

All the above recoveries have been processed and found in either October or November. We are still getting reports of birds found in November so this is not an exhaustive list. Thanks to Dawn Balmer for the photo.

22 November 2011

Pipits that Rock!

Rock Pipits are worthy of respect; not only breeding on rocky coastal habitats, but in winter they are probably the only passerine capable of remaining on the rocks in all weathers.
Last week we received details of a colour ringed Rock Pipit from Norway that had been ringed on 12 August 2011 as a 2nd calendar year male in Makkevika, Møre and Romsdal , Norway.
This bird was identified from its colour rings on the 8 and the 13 November 2011 in Margate, Kent, after having travelled more than 1200 km.
This represents the 9th record of a Norwegian ringed Rock Pipit to be seen in the UK. Many Scandinavian Pock Pipits of the littoralis subspecies winter in the east of Great Britain, as is shown by the 15 or so recoveries of birds from Sweden and the 9 from Norway.

This particular bird was ringed as part of a colour ringing project in Norway coordinated by Sunnmøre Ringing Group that started in February 2011, which also involves colour ringing of Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Purple Sandpiper, Curlew and Dunlin. Watch out for this birds!
Thank you to Kjell Mork Soot for supplying the photograph of a colour ringed Rock Pipit and details of this bird.

11 November 2011

Dipper in Essex

Continental Black-bellied Dippers are recorded most years on the islands in the north of Scotland and on the east coast of the UK. However, ringing recoveries have been surprisingly lacking in the origin of these migratory Dippers that visit the UK in the winter.

More than 1900 Dippers were ringed under the BTO ringing scheme during 2010, most of them ringed as chicks (1700). Encounters of ringed adults are rather low, outside of special projects and recoveries of foreign ringed birds are very unusual.

So we were quite surprised when we had a phone call about a Dipper from Norway! This is the fourth ever recovery of a Dipper with a foreign ring found in the UK and this bird was unfortunately attacked by a cat near Colchester, Essex.

We don't know yet where in Norway this bird came from but previously we have had three other movements of Dippers between the British Isles and Scandinavia, as the map below illustrates.

The one in Purple was ringed as a chick on 22 May 2004 near Bergen and later controlled by ringers in Voe (Shetland Mainland) on the 2 Feb 2006. The one in yellow was ringed as a chick north of Kristiandsand (south Norway) on the 31 May 1993 and later found killed by car the 28 Oct 1993. The one in red was ringed as an adult on 4 Mar 1985 in Orkelljunga (south Sweden) and controlled by a ringer two years later in Crail (Fife Region) on 3 Apr 1987.

View The Only Way is Essex in a larger map

Thanks to Jon Evans for the photograph of the Black-bellied Dipper.

07 November 2011

Quail surprise!

Ringer Greg Conway writes:

When one of my trainee ringers, mentioned that he had a 'good number' of Quail on a local farm in south Norfolk, and recalling the apparent ease with which this species is caught in Belgium and the Netherlands, I decide to give it a try. However, given the low success rate when attempting to catch in the autumn, I didn't expect to to catch any. Just another exercise in put nets up and taking down again.

So on 11th June, just as the sun was setting, we carefully put up a triangle in a cereal crop. By the time the nets were set, up to 4 males were calling nearby and we got the impression that something was watching us! As I made a final check of the net I was totally amazed to watch a male pop up from within the triangle of nets and jump into the net. It was immediately extracted and processed, then I started the tape lure (having the appropriate tape luring licence) and a female immediately flew into the net and again was promptly extracted. It was an hour later though before the third and final Quail of the evening was caught.

If that wasn't reward enough, I was amazed to receive notification recently that one of the three was shot in September at Montegut-Arros, Midi-Pyrenees, France.

Four Quail were ringed in Britain & Ireland in 2010 and we are up to 7 so far this year. It will be interesting to see how many were ringed this year, once all the data is in our database.

Thanks to John Secker for the photo.

01 November 2011

Eastern Jewel

There is an amazing amount of information that can be learned from ringing and at this time of year migration strategies are high on the list. Projects can be done looking at fat deposition or even the timings and reasons for movement.

Saying that, you can never be 100% sure what you will catch. While doing a routine ringing session, Maple Cross Ringing Group had a very unusual bird appear in their net. This was an Eastern Crowned Warbler, the second to be seen in Britain! It wasn't at a migration hotspot like Fair Isle, Shetland or somewhere in Norfolk but a private site at Hilfield Park Reservoir, Hertfordshire!

This bird breeds from eastern Siberia through to south-eastern China, Korea and Japan, and winters in south-east Asia south to Indonesia, so is around 11,500km off course. Birds that have been seen in Europe generally don't stay in the same location for very long and this bird was no exception, not being seen again after its release. It will be very interesting to see if this ringed juvenile Eastern Crowned Warbler is located anywhere else in the near future.

Thanks to Mike Beatley for the photos