25 July 2011


Earlier in the month we had reports from a few ringers saying that they had many male Quails ‘calling’ in their ringing sites, which coincides with the peak of birds shown by Birdtrack. These are thought to be young (3) males from more southern breeding grounds which are migrating north during their first calendar-year before their journey to their wintering grounds in the Sahel.

Quails are particularly difficult to monitor due to their fluctuating populations, skulking behaviour, long, complex migration, and mating system.

With only 3 Quails ringed during 2010 (out of a total of more than one million birds!) any recovery of a Quail qualifies for excitement, and that is exactly what happened when I found a report from Norway of a Quail found dead with a British ring.

This individual was found on the 24th May, and had been ringed just four days earlier in Sussex. Last May, Birdtrack records showed another peak in Quail numbers, probably involving birds on their way to breeding grounds.

The map below shows the only other 4 recoveries of Quails that have occurred in the last 100 years.

View Quails in a larger map

Blue: Adult female, ringed in 03 May 1965 in Cranleigh, Surrey, and shot in Zaragoza, Spain in September of the same year.

Green: Adult female, ringed in Fair Isle 23 May 1993 and reportedly killed by a Skua only a few days later in the same place.

Red: ringed as an adult female in Tielt, Belgium, the 10 May 2009 and killed by a Peregrine on 1st of July 2009 in Grantham.

Yellow: Adult male ringed in Elton, Derbyshire, and shot near Soria, Spain, on 18 Aug 2009.

18 July 2011

One good tern deserves another... and another...

Tony Murray writes and provides photo:

The plight of the Roseate Tern has been well documented over the last few years. The National Parks Wildlife Service (NPWS) has been involved in wardening the largest ternery in Ireland at Lady’s Island Lake, Co. Wexford for many years now. Since my move from Co. Mayo to Co. Wexford in 2004, this site has fallen under my responsibility as the Wildlife Ranger for South Wexford.

The annual tern wardening project generally involves management of the site, predator control and monitoring. The deployment of nestboxes, ringing and ring reading has also been done at other Irish, UK and French Roseate Tern colonies.

The task has got bigger and bigger over the last few years as our numbers of gulls and terns have increased. Mediterranean Gulls are up to 10 pairs and it has also been good news for all our tern species. Roseates have climbed from 66 in 2004 to over 150 pairs this year. Through ring reading, it is great to show the growth is due to 'home grown' individuals, but however some have relocated here from Dublin.

Our Sandwich Tern numbers continue to grow as well, with 1100 to 1300 pairs between 2004 and 2006. We are now currently just shy of the two thousand mark! Ring reading has again shown plenty of 'home grown' birds breeding but a couple from Inner Farne, Farne Islands, Northumberland and Strangford, County Down have been recorded recently.

14 July 2011

Interesting Reed Warbler distribution

During their free time, a few BTO staff have been working hard, finding all the Reed Warbler nests on a large site near Mundford, Norfolk. This work also involves Constant Effort ringing and monitoring.

This encouraged us to think of where Reed Warblers are caught and originate from. Below is a map of Reed Warblers which were ringed in Britain and then recaught/found in 2010. You can clearly see the southward migration route and also the lack of birds in Northern Scotland.

The map is interactive so you can zoom in and out for more or less detail.

View Reed Warbler distribution in a full screen map

So where do birds from other countries, that are recaptured/found in Britain in 2010 come from? See below.

View Reed Warbler originating distribution in a full screen map

08 July 2011

Recoveries in June

The processing of ringing recoveries in the demography team have been going very well recently. We've had lots of reports almost ready to send out to ringers and finders.

We thought it would be good idea to give you a taster of these (possibly unchecked).

Lesser Whitethroat Y60214 (blue pin) was ringed at Eilat Ringing Station, Israel on 10 March 2009 and was caught by ringers at Heysham Bird Observatory, Lancs on 12 June 2011 (1791km).

Starling LC14381 (red pin) was ringed on 29 Jan 2010 near Upton Magna, Shropshire was unfortunately killed by a cat in Minsk, Russia on 22 June 2011 (2022km).

A Redwing RT32238 (green pin) didn't do much better, after being ringed at Theddlethorpe St Helen, Lincolnshire on 15 October 2009 and hitting a window in Outokumpu, Finland on 4 June 2011 (1976km).

Sandwich Tern DK31758 (yellow pin) had its ring number read, probably while roosting. This bird was ringed at Sands of Forvie NNR, Newburgh on 30 May 2008 and was seen at Foce Isonzo, Staranzano, Italy on 5 June 2011 (1662km).

View June recoveries in a larger map

Other birds of note were a Hobby ringed in Powys seen at Minsmere, Suffolk (325km) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker found dead in a Squirrel trap.