28 November 2012

Duck happy

Phil Jones writes:

All ringers know that certain birds can become frequent visitors to traps and are prepared to enter them and eat the bait regularly. The inconvenience of waiting for release being outweighed by the readily available supply of food.

Tufted Duck taken by Barry Yates

The site at Icklesham runs a duck trap during the winter months and catches a trickle of Mallard, Tufted Duck and Coot. We know that female Tufted Duck with ring FA80827 is a regular visitor but we were surprised when she was retrapped for the hundredth time on 28 October 2012! She appears to be a migrant as she never turns up in the trap early in the autumn, in 2009 her first catch was 03 December and this year we caught her for the first time on 27 October. She was first ringed 27 September 2008 so hopefully will be a regular for many years to come.

Thanks to Phil Jones for letting us know and to Barry Yates for the great photo.

21 November 2012

Tawny Owl have to learn quickly

John Walshe writes:

"On 2 July 2003 while on my way into work to do a night shift, I came upon an adult Tawny Owl sitting stunned in the road at Stowupland, Suffolk having presumably just been clipped by a car. I stopped and picked it up, planning to just move it out of harm's way, whereupon it came back to life. I thoroughly examined it for any injury and it was unharmed and safe to ring. Luckily I had my ringing equipment in the car and promptly ringed the owl and released it.

Tawny Owl - Jill Pakenham

I didn't see or hear any more of this owl until nearly 8 years later, coming back from a night shift on the morning of 1 June 2011. There it was, again in almost the exact spot but badly stunned in the road but just alive. This time it seemed to have taken a bigger hit as it didn't revive at all and died. It's amazing that it had survived all that time by a fairly busy road which eventually claimed it, though not before raising lots of broods."

We have received varying numbers of Tawny Owl road reports over the past few years but relatively very few compared with Barn Owls (830 recoveries from 2009- November 2012). Below are the number of Tawny Owls that have been reported being hit by vehicles from 2009 to November 2012.

Thanks to John Walshe for letting us know.

16 November 2012

Bumper Little Stint year

With a latin name meaning a small grey waterside bird, the Little Stint is a gem among waders, especially in its breeding plumage.

We have had very few recoveries of this species in the history of the ringing scheme but things are now picking up. Up to 2011 we have had only had 16 reports of Little Stint ringed abroad and found in the UK and Ireland. Of these the majority (11 birds) were ringed in Norway, these were reported in the 1940s (1), 1960s (1), 1970s (2), 1980s (4), 1990's (2), 2000s (1).

Little Stint feeding - Dave Crawshaw
Due to a new colour ringing project in Norway, we have had a grand total of 7 sightings this year! Mike Marsh has let us know that he saw a group of 5 Little Stint at Orfordness, Suffolk. One of these was colour ringed and stayed around for a couple of days.This bird had only been ringed a mere 14 days previously and covered a distance of 1188km.

Little Stint winter in Africa, around the Indian Ocean and as far south as South Africa. There are also variable numbers in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, so it had a little further to go.

View Little Stint in a larger map

Thanks to Mike Marsh for letting us know.

12 November 2012

An exceptional Canadian goose

It's not every day we receive a report of a BTO-ringed bird in Canada, so when we recently received details of a goose shot in Quebec, interest was piqued. 1390992 was also carrying a neck collar and darvic ring (X2A) when shot in October 2012 at Gaspesie.

The bird, a Greenland White-fronted Goose, was originally ringed in Wexford, Ireland, in March 2012 and is only the second recovery of the species in the Americas. The first (colour-ringed 8MF)was also from Wexford, resighted in winter 1990/91 in Pennsylvania before returning to Wexford in subsequent winters. These two birds are also the only records of ringed Greenland White-fronted Geese in North America since the work of Finn Salomonsen in the 1940s and 1950s.

View Canadian goose in a larger map

Recoveies of Greenland White-fronted Geese are more likely to come from Iceland and, not surprisingly, Greenland - see the online ringing report for further details.

Tony Fox continues the story:

The Greenland race of Greater White-fronted Goose was considered very rare in the Eastern United States before 1980, with the few records of any Greater White-fronted Geese coming from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York (mostly Long Island) and Connecticut. Interestingly, recent ringing of Canada Geese in west Greenland using yellow collars has shown these states to be the winter quarters for these geese which share the summer breeding areas with Greenland White-fronted Geese that normally winter exclusively in Ireland and Britain. Greater White-fronted Geese were also surprisingly rare in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada.

However, in recent years, numbers have increased and since around 1995, the species has been reported annually from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as the coastal states of eastern USA. It is really difficult to judge if this is just the result of more observers, better equipped with better optics and improved knowledge, or due to a genuine increase in these geese occurring in the region, but certainly between 1979 and 2004 there were some 73 reports of Greenland White-fronted Geese in North American Birds and the frequency of reporting has likely increased since that time. It seems likely that Greenland White-fronted Geese have always wandered down into North America, since there were ringing recoveries of individuals marked in west Greenland recovered in Quebec 12 October 1946, the Magdalene Islands, Quebec 1 October 1959 and in New Brunswick 22 October 1966, despite the relatively low numbers of individuals marked in the population during this period.

Since 1979, over 2600 Greenland White-fronted Geese have been marked in Ireland, Britain, Iceland and Greenland, yet only one has ever been resighted in North America: 8MF was ringed at Wexford in SE Ireland in winter 1989/90 but wintered in Pennsylvania in 1990/91 but returned to winter at Wexford in 1991/92 and 1992/93. The recovery of X2A, ringed at Wexford in winter 2011/12, from Gaspesie on the Quebec southern shore of the opening to the St Lawrence Seaway is thus an exciting yet rare record of the subspecies from the New World. Given that the population of the Greenland White-fronted Goose has increased rapidly during the 1980s and early 1990s before dropping back to mid 1980s populations levels in recent years, its seems likely that the subspecies remains a rather rare vagrant to the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and the coastal states of the US, probably individuals caught up with flocks of the Canada Geese that breed in west Greenland and that winter in this very area."

06 November 2012

Hola Common Gull!

Calum Campbell from Grampian Ringing Group writes:

After the continuing success of the large gull colour-ringing project in North-East Scotland, this summer Grampian Ringing Group undertook a new project to cover Black-headed and Common Gulls. One of the main aims of the project is to find out the dispersal and wintering patterns of the chicks from the various colonies in the region. On 30th June this year, we visited an inland colony of 2200 Common Gulls stretching over vast moorland (red pin).

Tillypronie colony - Euan Ferguson

There are very few colonies of such scale left in the UK after large declines in the breeding population. During the single ringing visit we ringed 180 chicks, 150 of which were also colour-ringed. Since ringing, six sightings have come in of Common Gull juveniles dispersing from this colony. Five of them were dotted around the North-East coast, valuable information, but we did get one sighting we did not expect.

Common Gull in Santa Crus de Oleiros - Antonio

A few days ago an email arrived from Sergio Paris, reporting that his friend Antonio had seen and photographed a Common Gull carrying an orange darvic (2XKN) in Santa Cruz de Oleiros, North-West SPAIN (green pin)!

According to the BTO recoveries database up until last year 94,916 Common Gulls had been ringed in the UK and Ireland. Only 1 of these had been recovered in Spain, a bird ringed in Kerry, Ireland in 1957 (blue pin)! Found only 7 miles from this one!

View Common Gull in Spain! in a larger map

This sighting is exceptional for the project and the ringing scheme but with only six sightings we are far from building a clear picture of where the majority of Grampian’s Common Gulls spend the winter. All sightings of all species of gulls are much appreciated and if you are not a ringer, sightings can be reported via ring.ac.

02 November 2012

Great Spotted Woodpecker reaches a Great age

Since 1909, ringing has occurred on these islands and with all this information, a great deal has been learnt about how long wild birds live.

The BTO has compiled a longevity list that is updated annually here, which includes the details of the oldest British and Irish birds wearing a BTO ring. At 3 years 2 months, the Firecrest burns out quite quickly, to the other end of the spectrum of the 50-year old Manx Shearwater.

Longevity records are beaten relatively rarely so it's a special occasion when a ringer re-catches a record breaking bird, unless it's a recently colonised bird like a Little Egret (9 years 6 months) or Egyptian Goose (12 years 5 months).

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker

The last longevity record for a Great Spotted Woodpecker was set in 1976 with a bird caught in Rochester, Kent. That has now changed with Alan Ball contacting us about a 10 year, 10 month and 30 day, female woodpecker at Bourne Wood, Lincolnshire!

The wing of a definite adult Great Spotted Woodpecker with retained primary covert

This year has also produced several old Blue Tits in Bourne Wood including one 7 years 11 months and one 7 years 10 months and another aged 7 years. Just a couple more years to break these records as well.

Thanks to Alan for letting us know and for the photographs. The online longevity pages will show his record once we have all the data in for this year.