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 DoƱana 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!