23 December 2013

Returning (ringed) Great Grey Shrike

We recently received some photos of a ringed Great Grey Shrike wintering in Lincolnshire, which were just about good enough to allow us to read the number.

With a bit of photo-editing and squinting, we can just about make out 4606 on the ring, which is a pretty good start. We can also just about see the 'ww' of the web address we now put on rings (www.ring.ac) and considering that the address is at the top of the ring this is almost certainly a BTO-ringed bird anyway.

So with that vague detail, a quick look at the database shows that there have been fewer than 20 Great Grey Shrikes ringed in the last three winters (13 ringed in winter 2011/12, four ringed in winter 2012/13 and so far this winter we have details of just two). Now if we assume that the ring does indeed include 4606 then one possibility stands out - LE46061, ringed as an adult at Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory on 4th November 2012. So presumably it had also spent last winter unnoticed somewhere in the East Midlands, but will be one to look out for over the coming months.

LE46061 when it was ringed in November 2012

Not the longest of movements!- view Great Grey Shrike in a larger map

Many thanks to Dave Roberts for sending us the images to set us off on this wild shrike hunt, and to George Gregory for the photo of the bird when it was ringed at Gib.

20 December 2013

100,000 encounters

Richard du Feu writes:

On the 17th December 1972 John McMeeking made his first ringing visit to Treswell Wood, Nottingham. Soon afterwards systematic ringing began covering seven standard sites around the wood along with visits to additional rides when time allowed. 41 years less two days later the 100,000th encounter (ringed and already ringed) record of birds ringed within the wood was made. Rather fittingly this bird was a Treecreeper which has been the logo of the group for the last few years. The photo below is of John McMeeking holding encounter number 100,000. Remarkably this was one of six Treecreepers caught simultaneously within 30 metres of netting.

John McMeeking with a Treecreeper - taken by John Clark

Initially John had said he wanted to find out what was in the wood and maybe get a paper or two out of ringing in the wood. It is safe to say that the latter has happened. The most noteworthy of these papers was the first paper to show that CES (Constant Effort Site) data did successfully monitor juvenile abundance. The various papers have only been possible because of the continual systematic monitoring, recording and hard work of all the CBC (Common Bird Census) recorders, nest recorders and ringers.

Updated 22/12/2013.

17 December 2013

Lost(?) Snow Bunting in France

With a chill in the air, it only seems right that we've just received details of a very bizarre Snow Bunting movement... With the aid of some excellent photos, we were able to read the ring of VX35928, seen on 22nd November at Moosch, France, right on the French/Swiss/German border.

VX35928 in northeast France in November
Interestingly, this bird had been ringed by East Norfolk Ringing Group as a young male at Eccles on Sea, Norfolk, just six days previously! It is interesting to think where these East Anglian birds are coming from, and as the two races can be identified on plumage (easier in the hand!), studies have shown that 80% of females in East Anglia are from Iceland whereas 80% of males are from Scandinavia (or Greenland).

The only other British-ringed Snow Bunting found in France was, more typically, found on the Belgian border, but an inland record so far east is almost unprecedented. There is one slightly more bizarre record, which bears many similarities with this recent record. AC96749 (also a young male) was ringed at Walberswick, Suffolk, on 4th November 1962 and shot just 14 days later in northeast Italy. So the fact these were both males and found so far east presumably means they were both Scandinavian birds wanting to winter more to the east than the UK...

All movements of Snow Buntings to/from Britain, with VX35928 in red
Having said that... the East Norfolk Ringing Group obviously do see birds from both races, as they caught the bird below on 8th December, wearing a shiny Icelandic ring! This is a bit more expected, with almost 50 exchanges between here and Iceland.

Many thanks to Marc Solari for the photos of the bird in France to allow us to read the ring and to Dave Andrews for the photo of the Icelandic-ringed bird.

05 December 2013

Demog Blog at Swanwick

OK, so whilst 'Demog Blog' itself won't be physically appearing at Swanwick this weekend, it will be making a guest appearance in a 'Social Media' talk on Sunday morning. So keep an eye out for it then and say hi if you're attending!

Speaking of all things social media, we thought we'd take this opportunity to shamelessly plug a few of the other BTO social media sites and some of the blogs we follow. The BTO itself exists on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, so why not like/follow/subscribe to keep up-to-date on what's going on in the BTO world. There are also various surveys on Twitter, including BirdTrack, Garden BirdWatch and WeBS.

On the blog front, if you've not already noticed, then check out the list of related blogs in the right-hand pane (unless you're reading this on a reader or on your phone!). Whilst it's not fair to pick out any blogs in particular, why not browse the list and see what takes your fancy. Recent posts on some of the regulars include portable Helgoland traps, Siberian Chiffchaffs, Dartford Warblers, hidden Kittiwake colonies, a Scandinavian invasion, Belgian Redwing, dawn to dusk ringing, and another cross-billed Blue Tit!

Bardsey Bird Observatory's versatile portable Helgoland trap

Another bizarre Blue Tit - this time on Peter Alker's blog
If you have a ringing-related blog yourself that doesn't feature on Demog Blog then let us know and we'll add you to the list. If you don't have a blog, but do have a story to tell, then you know where we are (ringing@bto.org).