12 May 2014

Icky went to Belgium

I hope you were able to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day over the weekend and that your field notebooks are now full of goodies to talk about. I thought I should tell you about a little migration story I found out about a few weeks ago.

Since the beginning of the Ringing Scheme a grand total of 1,091 Icterine Warblers have been ringed in the UK & Ireland. To my surprise only 5 of them have ever been recovered and reported to us, which meant that the report of an Icterine warbler with a BTO ring from Brussels was good enough to please the ringer (and the recoveries officer!)

Icterine warblers are normally passage visitors, with only a few confirmed breeding records in the UK. It is not surprising that practically all records of this species species are from the east coast. The graph below from sightings reported through BirdTrack shows that there is a small number of reports at the end of May-beginning of June during the spring migration, however, the majority of birds are reported in the fall migration from mid August.

On the 8th of June 2012 an Icterine Warbler (age 4) was trapped and ringed in the Isle of May. Presumably, this bird arrived at its breeding grounds somewhere in Continental Europe or Scandinavia, attempted breeding, succeed or failed, returned to its wintering grounds in Tropical and Southern Africa, and then returned to Europe in summer 2013 to breed again. And it was then, in July 2013, that this bird was re-trapped in a ringing session in Koksidje, Belgium.

Although according to the recovery report that we sent to both the ringers in the UK and Belgium says this bird travelled 661 km, obviously a few thousands kilometres more have been covered by this bird in reality!
Of the 5 recoveries of Icterine warblers in the BTO's ringing database, this is only the second found abroad, the other one having been found in France.

To find out more about the Isle of May please visit their web here.

1 comment:

  1. Peter Wilkinson12 May 2014 at 15:53

    Super recovery! Not entirely sure about the explanation, though. As a 4, we can't rule out that it was actually a 5. Perhaps it was a 5, a late returning bird born in 2011, that overshot in 2012, got back to where it wanted to be, and didn't make the same mistake in 2013. Just a thought.