27 October 2010

Colourful Kitty

After a previous sighting of a colour-ringed Kittiwake in the Midlands earlier this year, SeaWatch SW observers recorded a colour-ringed adult Kittiwake at the Gwennap Head watchpoint in Cornwall on 21 Aug.

This Kittiwake had been ringed as a chick at a colony in Finistere, western Brittany, on 4 July 2005 and was seen there in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 it was seen again and it made its first breeding attempt and raised one chick to fledging. It was last seen on 18 Aug 2010, just 3 days before it arrived at Gwennap Head.

Its departure may have been triggered by a Peregrine catching and eating a fledged chick on the adjacent nest but we'll never know!

Thanks to Simon and Jean-Yves Monnat for proving the above information and also check out their website. Photo by Jill Pakenham

25 October 2010

A long life for an Oystercatcher

Adding to the recent run of longevity records being broken, an Oystercatcher is being put in the hall of fame after it had been caught by the Wash Wader Ringing Group this summer.

The previous longevity record for an Oystercatcher was 36 years, 8 months and 16 days, which was put on Oystercatcher SS88071 back in 1969 and was then found dead in Norway in 2006.

The new record belongs to Oystercatcher SS58540 which was ringed by Adrian Blackburn at Friskney Marsh (TF4650) as a chick on 14 June 1970 and we now know it's still going strong. As this bird has lived unusually long, its ring has had to be replaced a couple of times to keep it in tip top shape. Because of this, Oystercatcher SS58540 is also known as FC15938 and FP99170. Amazingly after all this time it hasn't been caught or seen away from the site where it was first ringed.

The record now stands at 40 years, 1 month and 2 days!

Thanks to John Harding for the photo and all the ringers involved.

21 October 2010

2009 was a record year!

Each year ringers spend many early mornings catching birds to monitor their productivity and survival. Last year represented the centenary of the Ringing Scheme and, for the first time, more than 900,000 birds were ringed (935,867 to be exact!). The previous record was 881,920 in 2004. The high total in 2009 reflected a good breeding season, with large numbers of juvenile birds entering the population, but also an increased number of ringers (there are now over 2,500).

Notable were the higher ringing totals of seabirds reflecting a better breeding season following a run of years when breeding success has been poor. Preliminary reports from the 2010 breeding season suggest that many species have again had good productivity and numbers appear to be up, despite the severe winter weather at the beginning of the year.

20 October 2010

A Dunnock from Norway... update

Hot on the heels of the Norwegian-ringed Dunnock in Norfolk another has turned up in Suffolk. On 9 October at Orfordness, Suffolk, Landguard Ringing Group caught a Dunnock with Norwegian ring ED17532. They have been catching unusually high numbers of Dunnocks at Orfordness this month, associated with good numbers of Robins and it is tempting to think that many of these have been of Scandinavian origin.

Thanks to Mike Marsh and Gillian Stannard for letting us know and also David Crawshaw for the photo (Landguard Ringing Group).

15 October 2010

Colour ringing Marsh Tits

Richard Broughton writes:
I take part in the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) project, which is centred on Monks Wood NNR, Cambs, and has been looking at all aspects of Marsh Tit ecology in order to shed some light on the causes of the 66% decline in the national population between 1969 and 2006.

We have colour-ringed 904 Marsh Tits since 2003, and our core population of 32 pairs are all ringed and of known age and sex. We find most of their nests every spring and colour-ring an average of around 100 nestlings per year. This is between a quarter and a third of the BTO's annual pulli totals for this species.

Our Marsh Tit territories average 4-5 ha in size (very large for a bird of its size), and breeding is very synchronised across the population. Once the young fledge, they spend 10-15 days as a family group around the home territory before undertaking a very sudden and rapid dispersal phase over the following days. By July many of them have finished dispersing and most birds will remain settled for life.

Although we had a large search area, we found that the juvenile dispersal distances were very short. Worryingly, we've found evidence that habitat fragmentation can hamper the dispersal success of Marsh Tits. The full results of this study on the dispersal and ranging of Marsh Tits will be published in a forthcoming issue of Bird Study: Broughton RK, Hill, RA, Bellamy PE & Hinsley SA (in press) Dispersal, ranging and settling behaviour of Marsh Tits Poecile palustris in a fragmented landscape in lowland England.

Thanks to Richard for this post and the photos.

14 October 2010

Longevity gets even longer

Dave Okill writes:

"During the summer three ringed birds have turned up in Shetland that have beaten the age records in the BTO files for the longest living individual of that species.

The first was a Storm Petrel. Originally ringed on Fair Isle on 29 July 1974, it was then recaught on Mousa 26 May 2010, making it just short of 36 years between ringing and being found again. As Storm Petrels don't usually come back to the North Atlantic until they are 2 years old, then it's likely this bird was at least 38 years old. The previous oldest recorded Stormie was 31 years and 11 months old so this record has increased the longevity considerably.

The next was a Whimbrel on Fetlar that was posted previously here.

The third was a Red-throated Diver. A bird that I'd ringed as a chick on Unst in 1986 was found breeding a couple of kilometres from the site where it fledged, now 24 years old. Male Red-throated Divers starting to breed usually return to a site close to where they were hatched but females disperse more widely.

As all of these birds are still going, it could be that if we hear of them again they will extend the records further."

Thanks to Dave Okill for letting us know and to Malcolm Smith for the photo.

12 October 2010

Italian sandwiches

DE10153 was ringed in June 2008 on Ythan Estuary in Aberdeenshire by Grampian Ringing Group . Adriano Talamelli and his team captured it in September 2010, two years later in Salina di Comacchio (Ferrara,Italy). Salina di Comacchio is a regular ringing site of Adriano and his team, as well as a wintering site for this species. Notably, in the same place another tern was controlled in 2006; a 22 year old Sandwich Tern ringed in Ireland!

DE10153 was colour-marked with a cohort colour combination. The colour rings show the origin and the hatching year but don't identify it individually. In the Ringing office we therefore encourage the use of individual colour marks.

View DE10153 in a larger map
About 2000 sandwich terns are ringed in the UK and Ireland every year. Until last year, we had records of 28 of them having been reported from Italy, but this is the first since 2006.

So far this Autumn we have had another report of a Sandwich Tern; from Coimbra, Portugal.
Adriano Talamelli, who coordinates the sighting of forgein colour-marked birds in Italy, was kind enough to supply us with some lovely photographs of Sandwich Terns and we look forward to hearing from his team again in the future with more controls of British ringed birds.

11 October 2010

Never too late!

The Barn Owl has become one of the most intensively monitored species in the UK. In late summer breeding season would normally be over but this year was a bit unusual as Colin Shawyer recollects...

"In May and early June almost a third of pairs had not attempted to lay and they were unlikely to do so later in the year (due to very low body weights). In mid July gales that lasted three days and nights, prevented adults from hunting and caused entire broods to starve, many of which were only two weeks from fledging.

So far so bleak. But returning to that third of pairs that were on territory but not laying: an interesting observation was noted. At some of those sites the adult females—and even some males—had begun their wing moult, which is a good indication that a pair has ‘given up’ for the season and is unlikely to breed. But at a greater proportion of those nest sites no such moulting was seen. How important these observations turned out to be!

My colleagues and I decided to re-visit many sites in late August and early September and found healthy broods of fours, fives and sixes. The ages of many of these chicks indicated that the eggs had been laid in late June after our earlier visits, when we had weighed the females and surmised they were not to breed. Even some traditionally-used nest sites that were vacant in June contained large and healthy broods.

Had we stuck to our usual plan of only revisiting sites in August where breeding had already been noted, we would have missed a surge of late first-nesting attempts. So it goes to show that there are never two breeding seasons the same for a nest recorder! Overall breeding success in 2010 will not be as quite as bad as we had originally feared."

By Colin Shawyer
BTO - BOMP-Project Development and Monitoring
BOCN - Project Director, UK and Ireland

Follow Colin Shawyer's thoughts on Barn Owl monitoring in his blog or get involved in the Nest Record Scheme next year!

08 October 2010

Cetti leaves Cheshire!

As a follow up to our post on 'Cetti reaches Cheshire' we have heard of one going the other way. A female Cetti's Warbler that was ringed by the Merseyside Ringing Group at Woolston Eyes, Cheshire on 31 October 2009 was caught by the NOA Ringing Group at Thornham, Norfolk on 06 July 2010! A distance of 213km.

View Cetti leaves cheshire in a larger map

On a different note, for all those ringers who ring lots of aggressive Blue Tits. Lista Bird Observatory on the southern tip of Norway ringed 601 birds yesterday. These included 528 Blue Tits, 22 Great Tits, 15 Coal Tits and a Willow Tit (566 tits). So keep a look out for those turning up in a garden in the UK soon.

07 October 2010

Colourful Black-wits tracked

Colour ringing projects provide a brilliant opportunity to be able to identify ringed birds in the field. The Black-tailed Godwit is a great example, with lots of chicks being colour ringed in their breeding ground in Iceland, providing a lot of information of their movements as part of this project coordinated by Pete Potts.

One of these Godwits, 568692 (the bird on the left), was ringed in Langus, Siglufjurdor in northern Iceland and it has been seen several times in the UK over 2 years. Remember that during the summer this bird probably went all the way back to Iceland to breed, clocking up the miles.

View Black tailed Godwit in a larger map

Thanks to Astrid Kant and David Wileman for the information and the photos.

05 October 2010

A Dunnock from Norway... No way!

The Dunnock is not one of those species that you instantly think of as a winter/passage migrant but we have just been in contact with Sophie Barker from the Holme Bird Observatory which has caught a Dunnock that proves we do get them.

This bird was wearing a Norwegian ring, ED22017 which was originally ringed on the 9th August 2010 as a juvenile near Kragero, Telemark in Norway by Norwegian ringer Hans Inge Nicolaysen.

View Dunnock from Norway in a larger map

This is actually the 18th Dunnock from Norway to reach our shores, the last one was back in 2006. Interestingly only 3 were ringed as adults, the rest being juvenile birds. So the next time you see a ringed Dunnock in your garden don't assume it was ringed just around the corner!

Thanks to Sophie and Hans Inge Nicolaysen for the information and to John Harding for the photo.

01 October 2010

Nightjar ringing

Last year UK ringers caught over 230 Nightjars to try and find out more about their fantastic migration and demography. This species is believed to winter in tropical and South Africa. So far we have received recoveries from various countries including The Netherlands, Spain, France, Morocco and Algeria but there is much more we don't know yet.

Interestingly the notes in a Nightjars 'jar' or 'churr' are emitted at a rate of 30 or 40 per second and ringers can also testify to an interesting 'hiss' that is given by birds in the hand. This could be used to 'see off' any would be attackers by mimicking a snake.

Rebecca Nesbit has posted a clip on Youtube (below) which shows Mike Gould going through the process of Nightjar ringing.