16 August 2017

See you at Rutland Birdfair

It's that time of year again, when birders from all over the world gather at their 'Glasonbury' - The Birdfair.

Over the years, the Birdfair has raised mind boggling sums of money for bird conservation all over the world. Many wildlife charities attend to help with this cause and promote their charity at the same time. The BTO has attended the Birdfair for many years and this year is no exception, so when you are there, pop over to marquee three (stand 36-38) and say 'Hi'. It would be great to meet our many thousands of volunteers and members and we can let you know what has been going on at BTO HQ recently.

For the Ringing and Nest Recording Team, the pinnacle of the Birdfair has to be the ringing demonstration, run in partnership with the Rutland Water Ringing Group. We're in the same place as previous years, which is next to marquee four and the red car park. Over the years we've had some fantastic birds including Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk, Turtle Dove and Nightingale, but it's not all about the rarely caught birds. All the data collected during Birdfair will go into the BTO national ringing database and supplement all the fantastic work done by the Rutland Water Ringing Group.

Ringing demo in action. Photo by Sam Franks

Our main species caught are Reed and Sedge Warblers, some of which have been ringed in previous years, and now have clocked up quite a few miles during their life by going to Africa and back. Once we have processed all the birds, our attention switches to ringing people. If you are 'ringed' with one of our wrist bands, pop over to the BTO stand (marquee three) to find out what happened to you.

Releasing a Dunnock. Photo by Peter Carr (@wildlifePete)
There is a lot to do at Birdfair, but make sure you visit us at the ringing demo and the main BTO stand, as it would be great to see you (we may have a small slice of cake for you too).

02 August 2017

Chick couldn't wait to get to Britain

Gull spotter Andy Deighton writes:

Norfolk Bridge, on the river Don in Sheffield, has been a good place to get close views of loafing gulls over the summer. The birds feed at the nearby Viridor glass recycling plant and loaf, bathe and preen on the river weir and adjacent factory roofs.

Decent numbers of immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Black-headed Gulls spend late summer here, with smaller numbers of Herring Gulls, the odd Greater Black-backed, Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull.

From mid-June, numbers of adult, post-breeding Black-headed Gulls started to build up on the river Don, with the first juvenile noted on 30 June and three to four juveniles present over the next few days.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull. Photo by Andy Deighton

The nearest known large Black-headed Gull colony is at Old Moor, about 14 km away, so any juveniles in Sheffield might not be expected to have travelled far from the breeding colony.

Checking the birds on 7 July, a colour marked Black-headed Gull was of interest, wearing colour ring white T25T. After reporting this via the BTO Euring website, it was a surprise to find this bird had been ringed as a chick in Poland, on 6 June, and was still present at that location on 28 June. It was then with us just nine days later having travelled a massive 1,070 km journey within approximately six weeks of hatching.

The bird wasn’t seen subsequently so was presumably still on the move.