31 August 2011

Warbler wanderings

Ringing warblers in the summer is always exciting and the data collected is very valuable, especially when they are ringed as chicks or biometrics are taken.

The top warblers ringed in 2010 were Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler, all with more than 30,000 birds ringed. These are a mix of long and short distance migrants. We have had reasonable number of Sedge Warbler recoveries from other countries so far (summaries below taken from the Online Ringing Reports). Also click here to see Sedge Warbler recovery totals per country.

Here in the Demography Team, we have just heard about Sedge Warbler T796371. This bird was ringed as a juvenile on 4th August at Hollesley, Suffolk (blue pin). It was then caught in The Netherlands on 13th August (awaiting ringing details, pink pin). Amazingly this bird was then caught on its southward migration on 18th August in Melsele, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium (green pin). Three countries in a couple of weeks, not bad by anyone's standard.

View Sedge Warbler tour in a larger map

Hopefully this bird will now head south to its wintering grounds and with increasing ringing in Africa, it is becoming more likely that we will be getting a clearer picture of their movements.

Thanks to Dawn Balmer for the photo.

23 August 2011

Just nipping to Spain

In 2010 our ringing scheme ringed 2,331 Redshank and lots of these birds have gone on to be seen or recovered in other countries. Foreign ringed Redshank are found less frequently in this country. Click here to see recovery reports in more detail.

Redshank, 3M009051, was ringed and colour ringed on 13th February 2011 as a juvenile at Fianteira, Sanxenxo, Spain (42'27N 8'50W), (blue pin). This bird was seen at this location up to the 20th March and was then reported to us being seen alive at Seaforth Nature Reserve, Liverpool (red pin) on 27th April (1296km). This is the first Spanish ringed Redshank to be recorded in the UK!

View 1st Spanish ringed Redshank in a larger map

Interestingly it was then seen very close to where it was colour ringed on 29th July (green pin). This bird must have been wintering in Spain and recorded on its migration north to breed. There has been quite a lot of movement of birds between the UK and Iceland to the north, and the UK and France to the south but very little further south than this.

Thanks to Richard du Feu for letting us know about this.

12 August 2011

Ringing Course at Chew

I have just been on the Chew Valley Ringing Course in Somerset. This long standing course offered training in mist netting of various species covering Reed habitat, garden birds and also hirundines. Together with this information on moult stratagies and other catching methods were also given.

This year there were mainly trainee ringers attending the course and we had a good mix of birds caught and we were able to look at their plumage in great detail. This is a regular ringing site so there were plenty of known age birds. About 300 birds were caught during the 3 days including a bird that was ringed further north by West Wiltshire Ringing Group and also an adult Sedge Warbler that was already ringed by the French Ringing Scheme (Paris)! Ringing details are on there way.

Ringing Courses are an excellent way for ringers to get extra experience in various aspects of ringing and also be assessed for permit upgrades. These are particularly useful for ringers applying for training endorsements. Courses are currently full for this year and usually run from June to October but future courses will be on the BTO website next year. It is advisable to book early!

Thanks to all that participated on the course and to Ed Drewitt for the photos and Mike Bailey for the image of the Paris ring.

02 August 2011

Roseate went to the Americas

Any report about Roseate Terns is always special, just like their rings. On Monday we opened the online recoveries from the weekend to find a sighting of a Roseate tern in a breeding colony. Yes, we are in the summer that’s what they should be… but we read a bit more and discovered that the finding county was New Hampshire! After double-checking, I checked the database and found that there is only one other recovery of a Roseate Tern ringed in the UK & Ireland and found across the Atlantic during the breeding season.

Quoting the Migration Atlas [about North West population of Roseate terns] ‘dispersal beyond this metapopulation to the Azores or USA appears to be extremely rare’, this confirms that this is a very unusual recovery.

Roseate terns breeding in the UK & Ireland winter along the east side of the Atlantic in Africa, while the birds from the North American populations go to Trinidad and the Brazilian coast. Some intrepid individuals clearly add variation to the genetic pool by moving between the continents!

SR73180 was ringed by the National Parks Wildlife Service (NPWS) as a chick on 1 July 2009 in Rockabill, near Dublin (Ireland) and hadn’t been seen until the 28 July 2011 when it was spotted at a breeding colony in The Isles of Shoals, a group of islands off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

SR73180 hasn't bred yet but, as a two year old Roseate tern, is doing a 'late season prospection' and, possibly finding a mate with whom to return next year and breed.

Daniel Hayward, who reported the bird and monitors all the seabirds in the Isles of Shoals as part of The Terns Project, has supplied the photographs.

Thanks to Daniel Hayward for letting us know and Stephen Newton from Birdwatch Ireland for his contribution to this post.