28 April 2014

Dunnock doing time in Denmark

At this time of year Dunnocks are in full breeding mode. We have found a few nests here on the BTO reserve so far this year with their amazing sky blue coloured eggs. The vast majority of Dunnock recoveries we receive are of birds that haven't travelled very far.

Livermere, Suffolk - John Walshe

We sent a report to John Walshe recently of a Dunnock that he had ringed at Livermere, Suffolk, (pink point on map) as a young bird on 31 Oct 2013 which had hit a window... in Denmark (red point on map)! It was found on 12 Mar 2014 at Braband So, Aarhus. Luckily it was only stunned and was later released back into the wild.

John writes:
"Looking at the BTO's online reports pages for Dunnock, there have only been 35 reports of BTO ringed Dunnocks found abroad and this is only the 2nd to Denmark. I've ringed nearly 4000 and only ever had 19 recoveries, never more than 2km from place of ringing."

Dunnock at Livermere- John Walshe
John continues:
"Dunnocks are the perfect illustration of the same species, with the same DNA that can behave different in different parts of their range. Scandinavian Dunnocks are forced to move in winter to escape the cold, whereas birds in the UK have no need to, in our milder climate. If the gulf stream was suddenly turned off and the UK gets colder in winter, could our Dunnocks become partial migrants like more northern birds?"

24 April 2014

Heaps of Hawfinch

In 2001, Jerry Lewis, had his first Hawfinch catch (7 birds) in the Forest of Dean. He was "well pleased" because, at the time, only 1368 Hawfinch had been ringed in the UK. His capture rate improved in the following years, and by 2007 he had ringed almost 100 birds. Understanding the birds' behaviour in the late winter/early spring, was key to his success (see Ringers' Bulletins Vol 12-1 Summer 2007 and Vol 12-6 Winter 2009).

In 2010 he was joined by two other ringers (Adrian Thomas and Rob Husbands) and seven feeding sites have been operated in the Dean/Wye Valley by the three of them since then. Around 200 birds were ringed in 2010 (see previous Demogblog post) and again in 2012 and 2013. Although catching has been relatively quiet this year, on 17 April, Jerry ringed the 1000th bird for the project - a fantastic achievement, with what is still a species rarely caught by the majority of British ringers.

This young female Hawfinch became the 1000th ringed Hawfinch for the Dean/Wye Valley project
They have also had nearly 400 recaptures, and have discovered just how mobile the birds are in the study area. They have had two birds moving outside the area, to Taunton and Dolgellau, both identified from their colour rings. In 2010 they caught the third Norwegian ringed bird for the UK and in 2012, the only Swedish ringed bird. The long standing longevity record has been exceeded by three birds, it now stands at just over 7 years, but is likely to be extended further in the near future.

Thanks to Jerry for letting us know.

14 April 2014

Spring encounters of the bird kind

You will be glad to hear that we are now reaching the 'tail end' of the auk wreck that has effected thousands of Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills up and down the country (posted previously). We are still however receiving reports from the various ringing schemes involved, showing the great distances these birds can travel during the winter.

Collared Doves have been known to make large movements occasionally and one such bird travelled south from Fair Isle, Shetland all the way to Halkirk, Caithness (238km) to end up being killed by a cat on the 06 April. Reports of interesting movements of Chaffinch include two Norwegian ringed birds, one killed by a cat in Powys and one to be found fresh dead in Wiltshire both found in mid March. At a very similar time a BTO ringed Chaffinch from Lincolnshire met his end in Norway after not seeing a window in time.

Chaffinch - John Harding

Windows were also responsible for 2 BTO ringed Dunnock recoveries of note. One was the 11th record to Norway (again ringed in Lincolnshire - 1721km) and the other was the 2nd ever Dunnock to be found in Denmark (ringed in Suffolk - 744km).

The BTO migration blog and BirdTrack is currently showing a good influx of spring migrants at the moment with species like Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Swallow, and with this comes encounters with ringed migrants. A Sussex ringed Chiffchaff for example (ringed in September 2013) met its end on its return migration when it was found dead in someone's kitchen in Spain (928km).

BirdTrack reporting rate of Chiffchaff

We have also received our first report of a returning Osprey, to the Glaslyn Osprey Centre near Porthmadog, Gwynedd. This bird was identified by a video camera placed near the nest during the winter. It was originally ringed as a chick at Rutland Water in 1998 in a brood of three.

A window was the likely cause of a Lincolnshire ringed Oystercatcher death in Norway (733km) but more positively, several Irish ringed Oystercatchers have been seen in their breeding grounds in Iceland (1519km).