22 June 2012

From Ghana to Kent - man and bird reunited

We recently heard of an amazing day's ringing by John Black in Kent. With a break in the weather, John headed out to continue his work fitting geolocators to Nightingales as part of a larger BTO project. These loggers use daylight sensors to determine the location of the bird, with the data being downloaded the next year when the bird is recaught.

The day started well, with John catching nine birds, bringing the spring total to an impressive 69 birds ringed. There was also a nice surprise on closing the nets when a fine male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was caught.

But John's attention was also caught by a colour-ringed Garden Warbler in the same net. Having helped out on the BTO/RSPB/GWS Migrants in Africa Project in February this year, John had a strange sense of déjà vu. Taking the bird out the net, the ring confirmed his initial thoughts: GRS ZOOL DP LEGON GHANA P007049.

This bird had originally been ringed in Ghana in March 2011. Remarkably, John himself had then been on the team that recaught the bird and added the colour rings, again in Ghana on 10th February 2012, but hadn't processed it himself.

There have been just 15 recoveries of BTO-ringed Garden Warblers in sub-Saharan Africa, 14 of which come from Ghana, with the other in Nigeria. This highlights the importance of this area for wintering Garden Warblers and the need for continued research in this part of the world. Thanks to John for letting us know about this incredible morning and we're all ultimately rather jealous!

15 June 2012

Bosrietzanger (OK, Dutch Marsh Warbler) in Suffolk

The end of May saw an influx of Marsh Warblers into the country and hopefully some of these will now hang around to breed as they have done in previous years. Several of these birds were also caught and Landguard Bird Observatory in Suffolk did rather well, catching three in just four days at the end of the month. The second of these, caught on 28th May, was already ringed though, but AT88367 (photographed in the hand below) had actually been ringed as an adult on 12th June 2011 at Castricum, Netherlands (in green on the map). This is first Dutch-ringed Marsh Warbler to be found in this country and there are just five previous reports of foreign-ringed birds in the UK: three from Norway and singles from Belgium and Denmark (ringing locations shown in blue on the map).

Three British-ringed birds have also been found abroad (recovery locations shown in red on the map): a nestling ringed in Worcestershire in 1985 was found drowned in Greece later that year, one from Sussex was recaught in Germany the next year and one ringed at Landguard Bird Obs in June 2008 was recaught in Belgium seven weeks later.

View Marsh Warbler movements in a larger map

Many thanks to Landguard Bird Obs for the news and to Will Brame for the photo. For those interested in Marsh Warbler ID, check how far outside the tertials the 'emargination' on the third primary falls...

06 June 2012

Late Sedge Warbler

With so many migrant warblers back on territory now, some even with small chicks, its always quite surprising to hear of late-comers. One such recovery involved Sedge Warbler L517544, photographed on Tias Golf Course, Lanzarote (Canary Islands) on 14th-16th May. Incredibly, the photographs (some of which are below) were good enough to read the ring number.

This bird arrived on the golf course following a few days of mist and northerly winds, and turned up with several other Sedge and Reed Warblers. It had originally been ringed on 6th August 2011 in Poole Harbour (Dorset). It's unclear whether this is a late migrant or a bird that for some reason won't breed this year, but is very unusual all the same. This is just the third BTO-ringed Sedge Warbler to be reported from the islands, with previous birds being a bird from Barnsley (South Yorkshire) found dead on Roque del Este (an uninhabited island 12km northeast of Lanzarote) in September 1986 and one from Sandwich Bay (Kent) killed by a bird of prey on Gran Canaria in August 2009.

Many thanks to David Pérez Rodríguez and Toño Salazar for reporting this and for the photographs of the bird here.