28 February 2010

Fair Isle Long-eared Owl returns

This Long-eared Owl was found in a poor state on a roadside on 12 February at Gillock, Caithness. With a bit of TLC, and a lot of food, it finally recovered and was released on 23 February.

Interestingly, GA22350 was originally ringed on Fair Isle in autumn 2005 and is presumably a Scandinavian bird regularly wintering in Scotland. It will have been ringed at the Bird Observatory on migration, and probably returned to Scandinavia every summer between then and now. It was ringed as a female, which makes sense, as male Long-eared Owls spend their winters 'closer to home' so often don't make it as far as Britain in the winter.

We don't get many recoveries of Long-eared Owl, and most foreign movements involve Germany (20), Sweden (17) and Norway (12).

Congratulations to Peter Davies for successfully rehabilitating this bird (and the proof is shown left, as it flies off to local woods) and thanks for letting us use his photos.

26 February 2010

Waxwing returns to Scottish garden

A Waxwing ringed in a Grampian garden on 19 February 2009 made a welcome return this week, almost exactly a year after being ringed. It, and 31 others, was originally ringed after being lured into the garden using 'spiked' apples - good tip there!

We haven't seen many Waxwings in the country this winter, and there are only four in this particular garden now, but this was a surprise returnee, identified by its unique colour rings.

There aren't too many examples of Waxwings being seen back at the same site in subsequent winters, so this is really good to hear of. The only examples I could find quickly were both Grampian birds as well. NV11840 was ringed in January 1990 at Kemnay and seen back there on 8 November 1990. It was then seen three times locally into mid December. The other was NV59223 ringed in Aberdeen in November 1990 and then seen in Cleveland in March 1991, but back in Aberdeen in November 1993!

So it's good to know there are colour-ringed Waxwing back in the country, so have a close look at any flocks near you and let us know via www.ring.ac

Many thanks to Walter Burns for the pictures.

23 February 2010

Finnish Peregrine shot in Cambridgeshire

We recently received the sad details of a Finnish-ringed Peregrine that was picked up with an injured wing in Soham on 10 January. After a short time in care it was apparent it had actually been shot, with vets eventually removing four pellets. These had broken a bone in the wing which they were able to pin it, and it is hoped that the bird will survive.

D261408 was originally ringed as a nestling in July 2009, near Pelkosenniemi, northern Finland (67 N 28 E), and was also given a black colour ring with TI in white (see below).

We have fewer than 10 records of Finnish-ringed Peregrines in the UK, but oddly the most recent was also a bird ringed near Pelkosenniemi. This was ringed in July 2008 and found dead (also with a broken wing!) in Gloucestershire in November 2008.

Thanks to Peter Wilkinson for letting us know about this, Jari Valkama for the ringing details and David Garner for the photo.

Collars galore

Nick Moran (the BirdTrack Organiser here at the BTO) has been out an about recently recording neck-collared wildfowl. NB: All records of neck-collared birds can be reported online at www.ring.ac

First up was this Bewick's Swan Nick photographed near Little Ouse, Cambs, on 30 January. We're not sure where this bird was ringed, but do know it has previously been seen in The Netherlands (in Flevoland on 17/12/2008) and Germany (11-29/3/2009). Histories of other neck-collared swans can be found here.

Just this last weekend (21 February) Nick noted a couple of neck-collared Pink-footed Geese near Lackford, Suffolk. These birds weren't the usual silver-collared birds (from the Icelandic population) but had blue collars.

Both of these birds (H7K and I3R) were ringed on 30 March 2005 in Denmark. Since being ringed these birds have commuted between Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands in subsequent winters, and a full list of sightings (59 and 76 sightings so far for the two birds) can be found here.

Remarkably, we have fewer than 10 records of birds from this population (three from Denmark and six from The Netherlands), which breed on Spitsbergen and winter on the Continent. Interestingly, this flock of Pink-feet also contained an obliging Tundra Bean Goose.

Thanks to Nick for letting us know about these birds and for the photos.

17 February 2010

South African Swallows...

...well actually perhaps 'our' Swallows in South Africa, but that's semantics!

We were contacted recently by ringers in Soutn Africa who have been ringing a large Swallow roost in the Durbanville area of the Cape (red marker on the map below). At last count they'd caught around 1500 birds and had 5 controls - four British and one Spanish. We'll keep the blog updated as and when they get more controls, but so far:

View South African Swallows in a larger map

Thanks to Lee Silks for keeping us up to date with the roost catches.

11 February 2010

The perfect recovery - Shag TIT

Just occasionally we get the perfect recovery come into the office, with all the details we need. This was the case with this particular report, of 1418041. This colour-ringed Shag was found on the beach at Snook Point and not only did we receive a photo of the ring, but also photos of the colour ring, the bird itself and even the exact place it was found!

It was ringed on 12 June 2009 on the island of Fidra, off the Lothian coast near North Berwick. Oh, and you do wonder if the ringers had a sense of humour...

08 February 2010

Little Egret goes south for the winter

With the increase of Little Egrets in the UK more and more birds are being ringed. One regular site in Norfolk that also adds colour rings is resulting in a growing number of recoveries through sightings.

So far there hasn’t been much movement between countries, with only 1 foreign ringed bird from The Netherlands to the UK and three British ringed birds being found abroad (1 to Netherlands, 1 to Channel Islands and 1 to Spain).

We have just heard of one of these Norfolk birds have been found near Pasaxe de Pedrido, Galicia. Unfortunately this bird was dead but much more noticeable with the colour rings. This is a distance of 1227km in 244 days, which beats the previous furthest Little Egret movement of 910km to Irun, San Sabastian, Spain!

This is a brilliant movement and with more birds being colour ringed there is a lot of potential to make a big difference to our understanding of Little Egret movements, just like Xakobe Gandara did, who found this bird. Thanks go to him for letting us know and the use of his pictures. I am especially grateful, as I was the one who ringed this bird!

Lee Barber

02 February 2010

'German Geordie' returns to Lothian

'German Geordie' is an old friend to Tom Dougall and members of Borders Ringing Group.

He's a male Blackbird ringed on the German island of Helgoland on 10 March 2005, and was presumably on return migration there, breeding further to the north or east in Scandinavia. He was the first caught near Gifford, East Lothian, on 16 February 2008, a farmland site fed up by Mike McDowall.

Though some birds are quite faithful to their wintering areas, it was a surprise when he was caught again on 14 December 2008 (and 3 January 2009). Even more interesting, he was caught again recently, on 30 January 2010. Presuming he'd been in the area all along this would have been his sixth winter, and he looks very good for it!

Thanks to Tom for letting us know about 'German Geordie' and to Duncan Priddle for the photos.