23 April 2012

Topping the quarter million

We're not talking about the number of Lapwing ringed since the start of the Ringing Scheme (actually 240,853 but close enough), or the number of pairs of Sand Martins breeding in the UK (maximum-ish) but the number of hits 'Demog Blog' passed last weekend.

From the first post on 5th January 2009, we've brought you 288 posts on a bewildering range of subjects. We've talked about sewage, butchers, Italian sandwiches, paintballing Rooks, an albino Storm Petrel, a Scottish Red Kite in the Azores and wrecks of Puffins in Spain and Kittiwakes in the Pyrenees. We've also brought you news of who wins out of Buzzard versus Chimpanzee and Tawny Owl versus Stock Dove and plenty of posts about Glossy Ibis. But what have been the most popular posts? The top five looks like this:
As so many recoveries are about movements, we've also published some pretty popular maps:
So if you've not explored our varied 'back catalogue' then now might just be a good time.

20 April 2012

Ringing at the Ringing Stone

While processing today's recoveries we came across an interesting report amongst the Greenfinches and Blackbirds. This consisted of a ring found on the Island of Tiree, Inner Hebrides, ironically 10 metres from a Neolithic monument called the Ringing Stone!

This stone is an erratic which was carried by glacial ice. This consists of light grey granodiorite which is much younger that the surrounding Lewisian rock of Tiree. If lightly hit with a stone it is supposed to ring like a large piece of iron. This is not however where we get our BTO rings from if you were wondering.

The ring belonged to a Common Gull that was ringed as a chick in June 1990 on Tiree a few kilometers from the Ringing Stone.

We thought it would be interesting to know how the reporting rate of Common Gull has fared over the years. The graph below is of all dead or dying birds reported to us in a particular year. The decline is partially due to the number of Common Gulls that have been ringed, which has fallen from over 3000 per year in the mid 1980s to under 2000 in recent years (see the online reports). The decline in the reporting rate of ringed birds is also partially to blame.

Thanks to Tommy Holden for the photo

12 April 2012

Wandering German larid

The WeBS count at Stithians Reservoir, Cornwall, at the weekend produced a rather interesting spring gull. A Lesser Black-backed Gull with colour ring Red HR21 had originally been ringed as a chick on the island of Nebel off the north coast of Germany in July 2010.

It was seen at Blaringhem, Pas de Calais, France, on 21st April 2011 before vacationing in sunny Cornwall. There are just 13 records of German-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the UK and this is only the third foreign-ringed Lesser Black-back to be found in Cornwall: the previous birds were from Spain and the Channel Islands.

View N009179 in a larger map

10 April 2012

Return of the Hirundo

Seeing the first Swallow of the year is always a very welcome sight and they are now begining to increase in numbers in Britain and Ireland. To see the current situation see the birdtrack Swallow page.

After having a Swallow from Retford reported in South Africa in a previous post, I didn't think we'd get any more interesting recoveries of Swallows...I was wrong. This morning we received an email from our colleagues at Birdlife Malta regarding two Swallows their ringers had caught wearing BTO rings.

The Swallows were caught at Ghadira Nature Reserve, Mellieha (blue pin). One bird, X861373 (red pin), was caught last night 09 April 2012, and was ringed as a juvenile on 07 August 2009 near Boughton, Stoke Ferry, Norfolk (2144km). They also managed to catch L486230 this morning 10 April 2012, which was ringed as juvenile on 31 August 2010 at Westwick, near Bishop Monkton, North Yorkshire (2408km).

View Malta Swallow in a larger map

Malta has been quite a hostile environment for birds and we have received very few recoveries from here. This will be the 24th and 25th report of a British or Irish ringed bird of any species reported in Malta and the first ever Swallows! A Malta ringed Swallow was controlled in Starbotton, North Yorkshire on 20 August 1982 but nothing since.

These Swallows were caught in a roost of about 150 birds so fingers crossed a few of their ringed birds get controlled in Britain or Ireland this summer.

Thanks to Jill Pakenham for the photo.

05 April 2012

Eggs not made of Chocolate

Nest recording is in full swing here at the Nunnery. The main species being recorded are Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock and Song Thrush, the latter of which are being found in very healthy numbers. Mallard are also very busy with the number of eggs varying from 8 to 23!

A nice brood of healthy Blackbirds were ringed by Rachael this morning, below.

We don't usually receive many nest records for Crossbill, a species that can nest as high as 20 metres up in trees. As well as being difficult to monitor, Crossbill nests are specially protected, so recorders must obtain a Schedule 1 Licence before looking for them.

Five nest records were collected for Crossbill last year, and the highest annual total ever was 15 records in 1985! This year, however, Mark Lawrence and Sorby Breck Ringing Group that they have already found and completed records for ten nests between them!

Thanks to Mark Lawrence for the picture of the Crossbill nest.