24 December 2009

Merry Christmas bloggers!

Just as we're in the midst of one of a big freeze, some birds just seem to be ignoring it completely. This week we had a report of a Canada Goose sitting on five eggs on a canal right in the middle of Manchester (not quite the one below), so it'll be interesting to see how it fares.

We've also hear of a Robin apparently nest-building in late November (Suffolk), a female Mallard with 14 day-old ducklings in mid November (on a golf course pond in Hainault Forest, London) and also a late Reed Warbler caught in Sussex on 1 December (it was originally ringed at the same site in late October).

If you find any odd nesting behaviour over the winter then we'd be interested to hear about it. All of us in the BTO Demography Team wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you have a New Year full of ringed birds and recorded nests!

Thanks to Judith Smith (Greater Manchester Bird Recorder) for letting us know about this bird.

22 December 2009

Lunchtime ring-reading - give it a go!

Everyone should try ring-reading.....

A quick lunchtime trip down to the river by The Nunnery (the BTO HQ) today was reasonably successful. Armed with a single bread roll and a pair of bins, I managed to read a Black-headed Gull ring from Helgoland, Germany (5501947). Not the most exciting record in the world, but there have been fewer than 20 records of German Black-headed Gulls in Norfolk, so not too bad!

So if you get a chance over Christmas, go armed with some bread and your bins and get reading! You can report any sightings online at www.ring.ac and comment here on the blog if you succeed.

21 December 2009

Scottish Red Kite in the Azores!

We do seem to be reporting on a lot of European birds heading west these days... This time though, it was a British bird deserting us! OK, so it was November LAST year, but we have only just received news of a wing-tagged Red Kite seen on the island of Corvo in the Azores. It was seen briefly on 3 November on the island, and is only the second record on an island group more famed for its vagrant American birds (see the 2009 Corvo birding blog for more).

This bird was originally ringed in the nest in northern Scotland in July 2008 and given wing tags blue 'm', black 'm'. We've added the movement to the Glossy Ibis map below, with the Red Kite in... red!

View 6PW and 'm' in a larger map

Many thanks to Martin Gottschling for reporting this and sending us the photos.

17 December 2009

Spanish Glossy Ibis in Trinidad and Tobago!

Amazingly we've just heard that a mystery ringed Glossy Ibis we helped trace last year is a seriously remarkable record!

6PW was ringed at the Fao colony in southern Spain on 3 June 2006. It was then seen over 6,000km away on 15 July 2008 at Oropouche Lagoon in Trinidad and Tobago! Our own Glossy Ibis news (here and here) now seems rather dull...

View 6PW in a larger map

Thanks to Kris Sookdeo for the original report (and photos) and the Spanish Ringing Scheme for helping us track this bird down.

14 December 2009

Amazing productivity in 2009!

We have just released the preliminary results of the CES (Constant Effort Sites) Scheme for 2009. A quick summary of the results are now online on the CES pages or can be downloaded as a pdf here.

It really was an amazing year, with lots of sites catching their highest ever number of juvenile birds. Of the core 25 species we monitor, 15 had productivity higher than the long-term average which is great news! The only species perhaps not doing so well were Blackbird (lack of access to food during a dry summer?) and Sedge Warbler. Full details are all online now, so do have a look!

10 December 2009

More Glossy Ibis news!

We had two interesting snippets of Glossy Ibis news yesterday afternoon... Firstly we found out that the two birds that were seen over Chew Valley Lake on 26 September, then seen at Catcott Lows were from rather different places! N4C was a bird ringed in the Camargue, southern France (on 19 May 2009, colony photo below), whereas L9M was a bird ringed in Donana, southern Spain!

I then received two emails from Germany reporting a colour-ringed bird, HH4. This has been present at Moorhauser Polder since 7 December (and photographed below), and is one of the birds that was originally seen at Pembrey, west Wales on 5-6 September! They do get around.....

Thanks to Andreas Noske for the report and to Regina Cunz and Michel Gauthier-Clerc for the photos.

09 December 2009

Winter holiday in Cleethorpes

For most, Cleethorpes might not seen the ideal winter holiday destination, but one Canadian visitor has been coming back for three years now.

Turnstone 1313-59558 (above, showing off its four-winged approach to flight!) was ringed at Alert, on the northern coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada in July 2001. This is incredibly far north (82 degrees north!) as can be seen on Google Maps here.

It was first seen on Cleethorpes beach on 4 December 2007, and again through subsequent winters - 1 January 2008, 23 November 2008 and lastly on 12 November 2009. It may well still be there, wandering round the beach feeding on scraps, so if you're in the area why not go and have a look at our foreign visitor! If you do, don't forget to report it to us via www.ring.ac

We have fewer than 30 records of Canadian Turnstone in Britain, and all have come from Ellesmere Island. Interestingly, birds from Alert there have also been seen as far south as the Canary Islands and even Namibia!

Thanks to Colin Smale and Chris Atkin for the photos and to Guy Morrison for the ringing details.

07 December 2009

Stone-curlews on TV

Just a quick update to point people at a TV feature looking at the ringing of some of the safest Stone-curlews in Britain - at Lakenheath US Air Force base!

Just click on the link below and scroll through to around 30.30

Norwegian Cormorant in London

One of our first posts on Demog Blog back in January involved our first record of Lithuanian-ringed Cormorant. This bird was colour-ringed in the nest in 2008 and had its details read at Boultham Mere, Lincolnshire.

Just last week we heard of our first colour-ringed Cormorant from Norway. 'Black Z4' was seen on the Thames at Wandsworth Park on 22 November. This bird was ringed at Øra Naturreservat, Fredrikstad, Østfold, Norway on 27 June 2001, so wasn't a wandering juvenile. This is the second bird we've had from this site, the first being found dead

View Cormorants in a larger map

We have had four records of Norwegian birds found dead in Britain (in Orkney, Northumberland, Suffolk and Glamorgan), but hopefully we'll see more colour-ringed birds in the future...

02 December 2009

More ringing on the BBC

Way back in the spring we filmed a bit about the history of ringing for BBC in the east. This is now available and gives a nice introduction to ringing more generally, and also has a look back at how the original ringing records were stored!

Thanks to Sue Wilkinson at the BBC Inside Out team for getting us access and permission to show this more widely!

23 November 2009

From Norway with love (and to Norway...)

We received details back of two excellent recoveries involving Norway this last week - one to and one from...

One was the arrival of only our fifth foreign-ringed Marsh Warbler, which was caught at Cape Clear Bird Observatory, southwest Ireland, on 25 September (photographed below). It had originally been ringed in Rogaland, on the southwest coast of Norway, on 3 September - a hefty 1,269km from Cape Clear! Our other foreign-ringed Marsh Warblers have come from Norway (recaught at Fair Isle Bird Observatory in May 2007 and also a Suffolk bird we blogged in June), Denmark (found dead on Orkney in June 1979) and Belgium (recaught in Hertfordshire in June 1994). It is odd how all these movements are mid-summer ones, with only this recent one breaking the pattern...

The second was an excellent bit of photography by Haavard Eggen from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. His amazing flight shots of a Guillemot (below) allowed us to easily read the bird's ring number (X95104). It was photographed on the tiny island of Hernyken in northwest Norway (at 67 degrees north) on 21 July and had been originally ringed as a chick at Sumburgh Head, Shetland, in July 1999.

This movement isn't quite as exceptional as the Marsh Warbler though, with 1,161 BTO-ringed Guillemots previously found in Norway...

Thanks to Tycho Anker-Nilssen for sending on the Guillemot photos and to Michael O'Donnell for his Marsh Warbler photo.

19 November 2009

Groppers going north, south AND west!

We don't get many reports of ringed Grasshopper Warblers and most of these are just short distance movements. This last autumn though we had three very contrasting movements, with details just processed recently.

The first was a bird (ring V680191), ringed at Titchfield Haven, Hampshire, on 5 September. It was then recaught by ringers at Villeton in southern France six days later, having travelled 728 km south! This is only our seventh Grasshopper Warbler movement to France, so was quite a surprise.

In complete contrast was X749276, ringed in Sussex on 13 September and recaught by ringers six days later (coincidentally) on Orfordness in Suffolk. So this bird had left the south coast and headed 146km northeast in a week, rather than south!

Even more bizarrely, AP40279 was ringed in The Netherlands on 13 September, which travelled due west before being killed by a cat in Caerphilly just three days (and 643km) later! This is only the third foreign-ringed Gropper found in the UK, after two Senegalese-ringed birds were found within 35 km of each other in 1992 (and only seven days apart).

The map below shows all three movements, with the ringing locations in blue and the finding locations in red.

View Groppers in a larger map

It is interesting to think if these birds were just taking different routes south or if one got slightly lost...

For more details on some of the BTO's work on migrants, have a look at our 'Out of Africa' pages on the project blog.

03 November 2009

Eagle Owls and Oysercatchers

Its not uncommon for rings to turn up at plucking posts or in/under raptor nests, but occasionally the species are rather more interesting than normal. In the past we've mentioned Peregrines vs Hobby and Peregrine vs Quail but one that came in today was most unusual.

This was a record of just a metal ring (SS14393) and black colour ring found in an Eagle Owl nest in Sor-Trondelag in central Norway! The species was a bit surprising (Oystercatcher) but even more so was that it had been ringed in 1963! OK, so it was only the rings that were found, with no bird, so they could have been in the nest for a while... It was originally ringed at Gronant in NE Wales on 15 November 1963, and the finders did mention that the ring looked rather worn!

We have over 160 records of ringed Oystercatchers killed by birds of prey, mostly Peregrines, but also Sparrowhawks and Goshawks and even a Merlin!. Interestingly, we do also have three previous records from Eagle Owl nests, two records from White-tailed Eagle nests and one from a Gyr Falcon nest. All of these were in Norway, which is where our winter birds spend their summers.

02 November 2009

How to catch a Coot

We have 'borrowed' this bit of video from Kane Brides' own blog, but we thought it was worth posting up here. Having been asked a few times how he catches so many Coot (as part of a colour ringing project), Kane reveals all, even if it is as simple as a loaf of bread and some patience!

In Kanes' own words:

"Most of the birds I catch are in the water - so am on my hands/knees when catching - however some birds do wander out of the water and will feed at your feet. They seem to be more confident when the weather gets cold and natural food dries up - I've found November and December to be my most productive months. Also they seem to be more confident when larger wildfowl such as Mute Swan / Canada Goose are surrounding them."

Birds are aged on leg colour (adults have bright yellow, orange or even red on the side of the leg, juveniles have dull legs with the sides grey gradually becoming yellow/orange), breast colour (adults have a black breast and juveniles have white streaks on the breast) iris colour (reddish in adults and brownish in juveniles) and the size of the frontal shield (smaller in juveniles).



26 October 2009

Our first Iccy movement

Following the news of breeding Icterine Warblers this summer in Scotland (see here), we have recently heard news of our first ever foreign movement of the species (if a bit belatedly...)

R533992 (above) was ringed at Dungeness Bird Observatory, Kent, on 14th May 2009, a day when three Icterine Warblers had turned up at the Observatory! Just six days later it was recaught at Zuydcoote, in northern France. This actually isn’t a huge hop though, as the two sites are only 70 miles apart, the distance from Dungeness to central London!

Coincidentally, when I checked the details with Dave Walker at Dungeness, he told us he’d also just seen a Stone Curlew at the Obs, a rather unusual autumn record. Perhaps not surprisingly this was colour-ringed, and we are just waiting for details now…..

20 October 2009

Blue Tits on the move???...

We rarely hear of long-distance movements of Blue Tits, so it was quite exciting to hear last week of a Belgian-ringed bird in Norfolk. This was recaught by David Fuller at his site near Garboldisham. You'd imagine this would be juvenile dispersal, but we found out today that BLB-10945741 was ringed at Essen, northern Belgium, on 10 October 2008, almost a year previously!

View Blue Tits in a larger map

The map above shows all foreign movements of Blue Tits, with blue pins marking BTO-ringed birds found abroad and green pins marking foreign-ringed birds found here (the red pins show the movement of David's bird). It is interesting that of the 10 movements of BTO- ringed birds, seven were ringed in Kent and no less than four were ringed at Dungeness Bird Observatory! There have only been four foreign-ringed birds found here (all recaught), and one of these turned up at Dungeness as well!

So the Blue Tits in your garden might not be as uninteresting and resident as you might think.....

19 October 2009

Mystery German Sparrowhawk

After seeing ringing on BBC AutumnWatch, one viewer sent us this fantastic photo of a ringed male Sparrowhawk that visited their garden in Lysted, Kent, last winter.

Nothing too exciting about this until we realised that this wasn’t on of our rings but one from Germany! Zooming in you can just about make out the letters "OLAN" and "MAN" which are actually part of the address "HELGOLAND GERMANIA". Unfortunately we can only make out part of the number, which is ---642-

We have only ever had 15 reports of German-ringed Sparrowhawks in this country, but we don't hold out too much hope of being able to track this one down unless we can read more detail on the ring!

Thanks to Graham Low for reporting this and for the excellent photo!

14 October 2009

Belated Broods?

Every year we receive a few reports of late broods in September and October. However this year, we seem to be getting ten times as many! Even now in October, House Martins and Swallows are still feeding their young in the nest. Surely such late fledging must be costly for post juvenile survival- especially during their migration back to Africa!

However, it's not just Hirundines which have been making the most of the mild weather. Redpoll, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Bullfinch are just some of the species which have continued to breed late on in the season. BTO ringers have reported an incredible number of young birds still undergoing their post juvenile moult.

The BIG question- Is this an abnormal year or will climate change make this a more regular occurrence?

Thanks to all BTO nest recorders and ringers, and thanks to John Harding for the photo.

12 October 2009

Migrating Kingfisher

OK, so its hardly the longest movement in the world, but its always nice to have one of your birds do something interesting. SB45298 was a bird we (as in University of East Anglia Ringing Group) ringed at one of our sites near Norwich - the lovely Whitlingham Sewage Treatment Works. It was ringed (along with three others that day!) on 27 June 2009.

As so often with ring recoveries, there isn't a happy ending though, as SB45298 hit a window and died on 9 October. But this was in Stowmarket, Suffolk, 55km (35 miles) from Norwich. Occasionally Kingfishers will move around in relation to cold weather, but that's hardly the case right now, so this is a rather unusual movement.

In the 100 years of ringing, we only have records of 15 foreign movements of Kingfisher, shown in the map below - eight foreign-ringed birds found here (in blue) and seven BTO-ringed birds found abroad (in red).

View Kingfishers in a larger map

Thanks to Dorian Moss for the photo.

09 October 2009

Ringing on AutumnWatch

After our appearance on SpringWatch in... the spring... there will be a bit of a ringing focus on AutumnWatch this evening.

The team have been out filming recently in various parts, with Martin training to ring in Sussex and Kate and Chris seeing it in action at Portland Bird Observatory in Dorset (below). So keep an eye out for us on BBC2 later this evening - 9pm.

29 September 2009

A muddy White-rumped Sandpiper

When we heard that the White-rumped Sandpiper currently at Abberton Reservoir, Essex, was ringed, we thought "Excellent, an American-ringed vagrant!". We don't get many of these, and they can be quite enlightening as to origins of these supposedly lost birds.

However, life is never that easy! Firstly, despite the bird being pretty confiding the excellent photos (this one from Dave Acfield) only show a very muddy ring! We've seen a fair few photos now, and none of them really show any detail at all! Secondly, an adult White-rumped Sandpiper was ringed in Montrose in late summer, so it may be that this is the same bird...

We've tried to convince ourselves the ring looks more American than British, but judging the gauge of metal from a photograph is rather difficult! We've also convinced ourselves the number is along the top of the ring which makes it a foreign ring....

But until the bird has a good paddle in some clean water we'll be none the wiser!

28 September 2009

Cetti's on the move

The weekend saw a min influx of Cetti's Warblers into Lincolnshire, where this is still a very uncommon bird. On Sunday one was caught at Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory, near Skegness - only the fifth ever at the site.

Two days previously, though, two birds were caught at Marston Sewage Works in South Lincolnshire - the first ever records for the site. One was ringed (V888617) and it turns out this was ringed as a very young juvenile at Rye Meads, Hertforshire, in July 2009.

Apparently Cetti's have had a good year at Rye Meads (with 20 juveniles ringed this autumn) after only recolonising the site again in 2008.

Named in memory of the Italian zoologist Francesco Cetti, this is a relatively new colonist to Britain, with birds first breeding in 1973.

Thanks to Keith Bowden for letting us know about the bird, Chris Dee for the prompt supply of ringing details and iain Livingstone for the photo (admittedly of a Spanish bird!).

24 September 2009

'Azure' Blue Tit

This rather odd-looking Blue Tit was caught last week in Lanarkshire, looking almost like some strange Blue Tit x Azure Tit hybrid!

Great Tits do loose their colour the further east they go, with Asian birds being completely greyscale! We've not seen such an extreme in Blue Tits though.

Thanks to Iain Livingstone for the images of this most bizarre bird.

22 September 2009

Mystery ring...

Found on the beach Carnsore Point, Wexford, on 17 September, this ring was a bit of a mystery at first.Many birds are colour-ringed to follow their movements, but without a species was this of use?

The giveaway is the unique, flattened shape of the ring, perfect to fit the leg of something like.... an auk. This is exactly what it turned out to be - a Guillemot ring. It was from a chick ringed (also with BTO ring number N03971) on Skomer Island, South Wales, on 26 June, so it hadn't survived too long.

All sightings of colour-ringed birds can be reported online at www.ring.ac so keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks to Tony Murray for the finding details and Tim Birkhead for the ringing details.

16 September 2009

Glossy Ibis influx

We see the occasional Glossy Ibis in the UK, but there's always the occasional big influx as well. It was also only last year we had our first foreign-ringed Glossy Ibis in Britain, when a bird ringed at Doñana in southern Spain (on 3 June 2006) was seen in Lincolnshire (below).

But the last two weeks have seen Glossy Ibis all over the place, with plenty sporting shiny colour rings. The first flock to arrive was of 12 birds seen in Wexford, Ireland, four of which were ringed (MVP, HH4, MR3 and NJF). Three days later these moved to Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, where a total of 25 birds were later seen (with the same four ringed birds mixed in). Since then, five have popped back to Wexford, seven have been seen in Essex, with reports of birds also from Kent, Avon, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk!

These birds all appear to be juveniles (the Lincolnshire bird was an adult) and were ringed at the same site in southern Spain this spring.

Thanks to Russel Hayes for the pic of the Lincs bird, and to Kev Joynes for the great pics of the Welsh birds.

09 September 2009

Irish Roseate Tern breeding in Belgium

We've just heard that our first recovery of a British and Irish ringed Roseate Tern in Belgium was breeding there. SR14895 was ringed as a nestling close to Dublin, Ireland in 2004 and was found breeding near Zeebrugge, Belgium in 2008.

When we realised that this was a first for Belgium, we asked our Belgian colleagues for confirmation. It turns out that our bird was breeding with a Common Tern, and they successfully produced hybrid chicks which were also ringed. The only other Roseate Tern in the colony also attempted to breed with a Common Tern, but was unsuccessful. Unfortunately in 2009 the colony of over 1000 pairs of terns was decimated by foxes. So far no pure pairs of Roseate Terns have bred in Belgium.
Posted by Dorian Moss

04 September 2009

World's oldest Whitethroat!

When ringers at Stanford Reservoir, Northants, caught Whitethroat ring number P774799 on 2 August 2009 they didn't think much of it. It was only later they realised that it had been originally ringed at the same site on 3 August 2002. Since then it was a regular at the site, though did go missing in 2007.

Seven years old might not seem like much, but P774799 is now the oldest recorded Whitethroat in Europe (and presumably the world?), beating a six year old Lincolnshire bird found dead back in 1992.

What is more amazing is that just in migrations alone, it will have made the 7,000 mile return trip to/from Africa seven times, crossing the Sahara 14 times!

Thanks to Adam Homer at Stanford Ringing Group for letting us know about this amazing bird.

02 September 2009

Ringing in The Times

At the weekend we had a bit of a media frenzy, with a visit from the BBC AutumnWatch team and a photographer from The Times. So keep an eye out for us on AutumnWatch later in the year and check out the ringing slideshow half way down the Times pages here. Alternatively, you can view the Times slideshow here

The weekend also saw Ellen Walford (BTO Membership Development Officer) leaping out of a plane at 10,000 feet to promote the BTO's Out of Africa Appeal.

Ringing will play an important part in this work, so it was quite apt that Ellen was sporting a very nice Centenary t-shirt. To support Ellen and the Appeal, check out her JustGiving page.

01 September 2009

Almost a first...

We were sent this photo recently of a ringed Black Tern, taken at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire last week. Sadly the image isn't quite sharp enough to make out any detail on the ring...

There have only been 100 Black Terns ringed in Britain and Ireland, and we have yet to hear of any movements, so this is doubly frustrating!

Thanks to Mark Hawkes for letting us know and teasing us with the picture!

18 August 2009

Come and say hello at BirdFair

Its the British BirdWatching Fair at Rutland Water this weekend (Friday to Sunday), and we'll be running a ringing demonstration on all three days. So why not come along and say hello and see some birds up close and personal?

The main BTO stand (in Marquee 3) will also have a nifty little application to produce a personalised Migration Atlas of birds from your home postcode, so give this a try too. There are masses of other things to do and see at BirdFair, so do come along.

17 August 2009

More Kittiwakes

Regular readers may remember the unusual Kittiwake wreck back in February... Over the weekend we had an email from BirdLife Malta with details of a dead bird found there back in March.

This turned out to be a Kittiwake as well, ringed as a chick on the Farne Islands in July 2006. This is only the tenth Kittiwake to be found in the Med, with previous records from Morocco, Libya (three), France (three), Sicily and Italy (two).

Thanks to Andre Raine from BirdLife Malta for the info on the bird.

10 August 2009

Little Egrets on the move

We seem to have received a good number of sightings of colour-ringed Little Egrets this summer. Birds from a small colony in Norfolk have been seen as far afield as Northumberland in previous years, and a bird ringed in 2008 (colour rings 'UZ') appears to have spent the winter at Fairburn Ings, also staying into the spring.

More impressive though was 'AF' (above), which was ringed in Kent in May 2003. It was seen local to the colony in July 2003, but then disappeared. It then reappeared on 27 June at Leighton Moss in Lancashire! This is not only a good long movement, but also makes GF09838 the oldest Little Egret we know of so far (in Britain and Ireland anyway). We still have a way to go to beat the 22 year old French bird though!

Colour-ringed birds (of any sort) can be reported online at www.ring.ac

Thanks to Richard du Feu for the photo and info.

05 August 2009

Tapping for Goatsuckers and a Breckland first

We've been out and about catching up with some Breckland specialities over the last few days.

As part of some BTO work on nest predation, we were out yesterday 'tapping' along forestry plantations looking for Nightjar nests. Once found, we can install nest cameras to monitor the progress of nesting attempts. Below you can see the camera on the left, and the eggs in the so-called nest on the right. Nightjar nests are never more than this, with eggs pretty much just laid on a patch of open ground.

The footage from these cameras is an amazing insight into the daily lives of these birds. Footage from Woodlark nests is also online here.

Then this morning, members of the BTO Nunnery Ringing Group finally caught up with the family of Cetti's Warblers that we suspected were breeding on our reserve. This is the first proven breeding in the Brecks of this colonist. The photo here shows mum (on the left) and two kids, and dad was also caught earlier in the morning.

Thanks to John Marchant for the Nightjar photo and Kate Risely for the Cetti's photo.

29 July 2009

Albino Storm Petrel

This one would cause a few raised eyebrows, voices and temperatures if it flew past a seawatch point!

This partial albino Storm Petrel was caught (and ringed) recently on Eilean nan Ron, off the Kyle of Tongue, Scotland. It was an adult bird and had its right foot missing! This might seem odd, but is actually quite a common occurrence in petrels - one of the hazards of dangling your feet in the water whilst feeding!

Thanks to Colin McShane (and Lisa Salt) for the photo.

24 July 2009

Peregrine prey...

More London buses! We rarely hear of anything REALLY exciting being found below Peregrine nests, but this week was an exception.

First in was a Hobby ringed in the nest in Herefordshire in 2007. Just its leg and ring were then found in the nest of a Spanish Peregrine on 9 May 2009. This nest was at Balmaseda, near Bilbao in northern Spain, only a short hop from the UK, and it had probably been caught on spring migration.

The other, even more unlikely report, was of a Quail leg found underneath the Peregrine nest in Lincolnshire. We thought this must be a mistake, but the Belgians confirmed this was correct. It was ringed on spring migration, on 5 May, so wquite a quick mocvement. Its been an amazing year for Quail nationally, with huge numbers of sightings, and this gives us some idea of where they arrived from.

We've only ever had two recoveries of ringed Quail (but we have only ringed 59 in 100 years), and this is actually our first ever foreign movement.

The Hobby was also the first to be found in Spain, and the map below shows the other foreign movements. Foreign-ringed birds found here are in red, and BTO-ringed birds found abroad are in blue.

View Hobbies in a larger map

17 July 2009

Shiants OAP

Old Age Puffin that is...

The Shiant Auk Ringing Group has just got back from a record-breaking expedition. The group broke the British longevity record when they caught a 32 year old Puffin (EX08155) on 5 July, originally ringed on the island in June 1977. Incredibly EX08155 was originally ringed by Ian Buxton (below), who was also a member of this year’s team: bird and man reunited 32 years later!

But the group beat their own record just five days later, when Ian recaught EB73152, originally ringed in June 1975. This makes it over 34 years old: older than three of this year’s expedition members! This is now also the oldest Puffin in Europe, beating an Icelandic bird of 33 years old.

Amazingly, it not only still had its original metal ring (below, looking good after 34 years), but also its colour ring, allowing it to be identified as a Shiants bird ‘in the field’.

13 July 2009

Centenary tern ringing (and geese)

We recently had a morning out recreating (almost) the first ringing event in England - ringing tern chicks on the north Norfolk coast. The first rings from the British Birds Scheme were issued to Miss E.L. Leach, one of the best bird photographers in her day. She was also a 'watcher' at the tern colonies on Blakeney Point and Scolt Head, and this is where the first English ringing would have happened in 1909.

Recreating it in 2009 on Blakeney Point was myself, Sheena Harvey (Editor of BirdWatching magazine) and Hannah Devlin (Science Correspondent for The Times). The piece in The Times appeared this morning, but is online here. Many thanks to David Woods and Eddie Stubbings from the National Trust for letting us ring on the Point and ferrying us across in their boat.

Sheena then came along to the annual round-up of moulting geese at the BTO's one and only reserve in Thetford. This is always great fun, though the scratches on my arms bear witness to these not so tame birds! We're not squashing them either, but sitting astride them (rather than on them) is the best way to keep flailing legs and wings under control.

Out of the 40 birds on the lake we caught 55, which was odd, but a good catch. The remaining 140 on the second lake await our attentions this evening, so watch this space... Thanks to Sheena for the photos, and look out for her article in an upcoming BirdWatching mag.

01 July 2009

52 year old Manxie (ring) found

When this report came in last week, there was an audible groan, as we always have a nightmare finding such ringing details... Why? Rings found by metal detectors are always so old that they are difficult to trace in the dusty archive.

But these are always interesting records though, even if we do have to dig deep. Luckily the ring number was still pretty clear (testimony to the toughness of the rings), and thankfully it was quite an easy one to trace. The ring two up from this one had been used on Lundy Island, so this seemed a good place to start. The Lundy Field Society then came straight back to confirm that it was a Manx Shearwater they'd ringed on 29 April 1957.

So though this doesn't tell us too much, its a nice bit of history!

25 June 2009

Spoonbills and Barnies on the move

Reports of colour-ringed brids are always nice to receive, as they almost all have really nice histories attached to them. Just this week we've been following some commuting Spoonbills and a Barnacle Goose.

One of these four Spoonbills at Caerlaverock was ringed in The Netherlands in June 2006 and has been previously seen wintering in Spain. Two Spoonbills currently hanging out at Cley Marshes NWT reserve in Norfolk also have colour rings, also originally ringed in The Netherlands. One was ringed in June 2006 and has spent its winters in Cadiz, Spain (as the Caerlaverock bird had), and the other was ringed in June 2007 and has been seen rather more frequently! Click the pins on the map to view the sighting dates around the country for this bird.

View Spoonbill in a larger map

We also heard of Barnacle Goose Red BP, which was a feral bird ringed in July 2005 in Bedfordshire. It has since been seen in Swindon, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire (9 May 2009), Cheshire (16 May), South Yorkshire (17 June, pictured below) and now Rutland Water, Leicestershire (from 18 June).

Many different species will be ringed, so do keep an ewye out for them. One photo we couldn't resist using is this one taken by Phil Kenyon of two birds from a local Dipper project.

18 June 2009

Kestrel chicks on BBC Midlands Today

Birds will always take advantage of a good opportunity, as these Kestrels show. After finding a broken window at Aston University in Birmingham, they took up residence, and have bred for 15 years. They starred on the local news recently when they were ringed.

Thanks to Tony Kelly for sending this on to us.

15 June 2009

Finnish Turnstone in Suffolk

Its not exceptional for us to receive a record of a Finnish-ringed Turnstone (this is the ninth in 100 years!) but one with photos is always nice.

This bird was ringed as a chick on 29 June 2008 Hamina in southern Finland, right at the southern edge of their world range. Just 49 days later it was seen, and had its ring read, at Orfordness on the Suffolk coast - 1,835 km from Hamina.

Thanks to Dave Cranshaw for the photo and to Landguard Ringing Group for letting us know.

12 June 2009

It doesn't always go to plan... (Starlings and Little Owls)

The best laid plans and all that.....

The last couple of nights have seen over 1,000 Starlings feeding over the sports fields on the UEA campus in Norwich, roosting in 2m high Elders - perfect for catching! So we hastily assembled a crack ringing team from BTO and UEA, expecting a catch of at least 2-300 birds. So we all gathered next to the somewhat empty-looking fields, with only a token five Starlings flying around looking lost. Our catch???...

Yep, one out of five! All wasn't entirely lost though, as on the way, a car load stopped off at a hollow tree near Thetford, following up a hot tip from a local walker. Inside.....

We don't ring many Little Owls locally, so this was a real pleasure!

Thanks to all of the 23 ringers who turned up for the Starling roost (and to the 'event organiser' who shall remain anonymous), and to Kate Risely for the photos.