21 September 2010

Another longevity record, this time its a Tern

The Farne Islands in Northumberland is famous for its sea bird population and ringing has been done by the National Trust, in partnership with the Natural History Society of Northumbria Ringing Group giving a great insight into their birds movements and life spans.

One of these birds, Arctic Tern CE60645, was ringed on 28th June 1980 and has been recaptured this year, making it the oldest Arctic Tern in the UK!

The arctic tern was recently discovered to have the longest migration route of any animal, flying an estimated 44,000 miles return trip, between their breeding grounds in Greenland to Antarctica in an ‘S’ shape to take advantage of prevailing global wind systems in order to preserve energy.

Click here to go to the BBC news website for more information.

Thanks to Jill Pakenham for the photo.

20 September 2010

The Welsh / Scottish connection

We have just heard from the Norwegian Ringing Scheme, who have told us that one of their ringers has read the rings of 2 Oystercatchers that were breeding together in Norway, amazingly they were both wearing BTO rings.

View Oystercatchers move to Norway in a larger map

One of the birds was ringed on Anglesey, Wales by SCAN Ringing Group (an adult, at least 3 years old, ringed on 10/02/2008) and the other on the Eden Estuary, Scotland by Tay Ringing Group (hatched in 2003 and ringed on 21/08/2004) .

15 September 2010

New Whimbrel longevity record

Allan Perkins writes:
This summer I spent 3 months on Fetlar, Shetland, studying the breeding success of Whimbrel to help investigate their 'recent' declines. Previous studies by Murray Grant on Fetlar and Unst in the 1980s had involved catching and colour-ringing adult Whimbrel, to monitor brood survival and returning rates of adults from their tropical wintering grounds in subsequent breeding seasons. During 1986-88, 97 Whimbrel were colour-ringed and of those the returning rates were high - c. 89% seen the year after ringing - and most birds returned to breed at the same site used in the previous year. Sightings of some of these birds on Fetlar continued up until the mid-1990s, but none had been recorded since then.

It was on 9 May, this year when I first saw one of these colour ringed birds feeding on the short cliff-top turf of Strandburgh Ness, at the extreme northeast tip of Fetlar. Frustratingly it wasn't until 31 May that I managed to get good views of the colour ring combination and amazingly it was a bird ringed in the 1980s.

The bird was identified as EK92102, ringed as an adult breeding on Fetlar on 1 June 1986, and sexed as a male from subsequent observations. Given that Whimbrels do not normally start to breed until they are two or three years old, this bird must be at least 26 years old, making it the oldest known Whimbrel in the world! This surpasses the previous longevity record of 16 years, held by a Whimbrel ringed as a chick on Mainland Shetland in June 1979 and shot in northern France in August 1995.

EK92102 was last recorded in 1995, but it seems likely that it had been returning, undetected, to Fetlar each year since then. Maybe it will return again next year for potentially its 26th breeding season.

Thanks to Allan for letting us know about this bird and also to Murray Grant for the lower photo.

14 September 2010

Terns around the World

The Common Tern is a seabird which can be found breeding in most of Europe, Asia and North America. After breeding in the northern hemisphere they migrate south along the coasts to South America, southern Africa, Falkland Islands, India and Australasia except New Zealand.

We don't receive very many reports of Common Terns ringed in other countries. In fact, until last year, we only had 144 recoveries of Common Terns ringed abroad. Of these birds 50% came from Scandinavia.

Last month, ringers from Tees Ringing Group had some very good mist netting catches of terns. Their efforts paid off in the form of several exciting controls: one Common Tern from Finland, one from Sweden, one from Norway and one from Russia!

Common Tern MOSCOW TA64035, captured in Seal Sands in Teesmouth on the 3rd Sep 2010, is the first ever Common Tern from Russia and we can't wait to hear about the ringing details. We'll keep you posted.

Thank you to Allan Snape and Eric Wood for sharing this story and supplying the photographs.

10 September 2010

Adventures in 'Crocodile Island'

Opening the post late on Friday afternoon rewarded us with a great letter; very well written, sent by a girl from Pudsey in Leeds:

"On the 30th August 2010 me, Issy K, and my twin brother, Joe K, discovered an Island off the coast of Knap, in Loch Caliosport, off the Sounds of Jura in Argyll, Scotland. We don't know what the name of the Island was, but Joe nicknamed it Crocodile Island. We were planning to go to Queens beach, but Daddy couldn't get the boat close enough. Instead, Mummy cleverly spotted an island we had never come across before. Joe named it Crocodile Island because of the shape. After lunch we explored it (we had lunch on the island). I set off first, hurdling over the rocks, sliding down their faces and marveling at the marvelous wildlife. Eventually, Joe caught up with me so we climbed together. I was peering at all the sea creatures when I stumbled across a skeleton of a bird which had a ring with your address on its foot."

What a lovely story! We can reveal that the skeleton found by Issy was that of a Shag, ringed as a chick on Sanda Island by Clyde Ringing Group.

Last year 3583 Shags were ringed in the UK, 84% of these were Scottish birds - 8% were recovered!

Click here Crocodile Island 1391652 for a bigger map

For more information about the number of ringed birds and recoveries click here.

01 September 2010

CES completed for another year

We have just had our last CES (Constant Effort Site) session of the season and are looking forward to seeing how this year compares to previous years.

Each year, on our last CES session we organise a 'CES breakfast', where members of the Nunnery Ringing Group and BTO staff who are not ringers get together and celebrate the completion of 12 visits. As an added incentive Susan and Paul Waghorn provide us with a fabulous breakfast after the nets have been taken down.

On this last CES session no less than 50% of the catch were Bullfinches (although this was actually 3 birds). Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and Wren were also caught and a September Swift was seen flying over one of the lakes.

Once all the data has been submitted from all of our CES projects from around the country we will be able to see if it has been a good breeding season or if this was a localised phenomenon (Rye Bay Ringing Group post).

Thanks to Susan Waghorn for the photo.