26 October 2012

Norwegian Blue Tit update!

We have just heard from our colleagues of the Norwegian Ringing Scheme with an update of the Blue Tit wearing a Norwegian ring that was previously posted.

The first-year Blue Tit was ringed at Lista Bird Observatory, Farsund, Vest-Agder (58'06N, 06'34E) on October 5th. This bird was then caught 9 days later in Lerwick fit and well.

View NOS Blue Tit in a larger map

Alf Tore Mjös writes:
2012 has been another “big year” for Blue Tits in Scandinavia. Many have left the coastline and turned up on the remote island of Utsira 20 km off the west coast, including quite a few ringed at Lista Bird Observatory and Revtangen Bird Observatory. The usual movement of Blue Tits in southern Norway is along the coast from east towards west and then northwest to north.

Fair Isle Bird Observatory has also reported a Blue Tit in a garden while hoping for a Rubythroat. The warden writes on their blog "The last Fair Isle record of a Blue Tit was back on 1st January 1989, there have actually been 3 Rubythroats (including this years) on the island since this commonplace UK garden resident."

Thanks again for David Okill for letting us know and our colleagues in Norway.

22 October 2012

Norwegian ringed Blue Tit in Shetland

Dave Okill writes:

Autumn in Shetland brings falls of continental migrants on south-easterly winds and the end of the second week in October 2012 brought large numbers of Redwings with smaller numbers of Goldcrests, Blackbirds and Bramblings into the Isles. Reports of more uncommon birds were scattered over the next few days and included Olive-backed Pipits into double figures, a Treecreeper and unbelievably a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Scotland's first authenticated record.

On the 14th October, an Olive-backed Pipit and a Great Tit were found in a mature wooded garden on the edge of Lerwick. These were joined on the 16th by a Blue Tit which was seen to be ringed with a 'chunky' silver ring. Permission was obtained by members of the Shetland Ringing Group and on the next day the Great Tit and Blue Tit were caught. The ring on the Blue Tit proved to be from the Norwegian ringing scheme.

Blue Tits are very scarce late autumn migrants in the Northern Isles and they do occasionally over winter; in the exceptional year of 1988 at least 40 were recorded but in many years there are no reports, so a ringed bird in the Northern Isles is very unusual.

There have been a number of previous ringing recoveries of Blue Tits to and from the continent but
these have nearly all been from south-east England especially along the channel coast. There have
been 9 foreign birds recovered in England and 10 British ringed birds recovered abroad. The single
Blue Tit recovered from Norway was at Felixstowe, Suffolk. It is possible that some of these birds
moving across the channel could have been ship assisted, but difficult to prove.

We await the ringing details from Norway with interest.

Thanks to Ray Johnston for the photo

17 October 2012

A Greenshank fae Aiberdeen to Ireland to Spain

Raymond Duncan writes:

Over 250 Greenshank have been colour-ringed since 2005 in a joint Grampian/Tay RG project investigating the origins, site fidelity and onward movements of birds on autumn passage through the Ythan Estuary (near Aberdeen) and Montrose Basin, NE Scotland. Ten individuals have been resighted in Ireland and four in Spain.

Look out behind you! YB-LB has been recorded wintering
in NW Spain for the past 6 years. Photo by Antonio Gutierrez

Recent reports of juvenile 'RL: Light green/blue LL: Blue/black' have been particularly interesting not only because of the speed of travel but also because it is our first sighting that confirms some birds visit Ireland before re-orientating south to Spain and beyond for the winter. It was ringed as a juvenile on the Ythan Estuary on 11/09/12.

Dermot Breen then resighted and photographed it (below) 11 days later at Muckrush, Lough Corrib, County Galway, right over near the west coast of Ireland.

LB-BN in Galway, Ireland by Dermot Breen

He prudently commented that he thought the bird was just passing through as Greenshank aren’t too common at this inland site. How correct he was. Five days later Daniel Lopez Velasco resighted and photographed it (below) at Ponteceso Estuary, A. Coruna, NW Spain.

LB-BN in NW Spain by Daniel Lopez Velasco

Thanks very much to both for reporting these sightings. Please keep an eye out for colour-ringed Greenshank where ever you are. Holiday birders have reported colour-ringed birds in Morroco, the Nijer Delta and this regular spring visitor on the Cape Verde Islands.

LB-LO at Santiago on the Cape Verde Islands on 10/3/12 by Danial Mauras

12 October 2012

Skokholm Revitalised

Bird Observatories are located all over the UK and Ireland, on the coast or on islands. Their primary purpose is to conduct long-term monitoring of bird populations and migration, and encourage volunteers, particularly ringers, to aid in this study.

Skokholm off the Welsh coast, was Britains first accredited Bird Observatory in 1933 but closed down its ringing activities in 1976 when the landlords decreed that no trapping would be allowed. However the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales was able to buy the island in 2007 and in the last couple of years has been busy refurbishing the accommodation and has recently introduced ringing activities again alongside a rigorous recording system with the objective of once again becoming an accredited Bird Observatory.

In the last two seasons a small number of birds has been ringed during work party weeks but this limited activity has already produced a number of controls including the eighth Reed Warbler from Germany, Sedge Warbler from Scotland and Willow Warblers from Ireland, Scotland and southern UK.

In 2013 the island hopes to continue ringing (with the aid of a new Helgoland trap, increasing the total to three) and nest recording, as well as instituting some new studies on Puffins and Manx Shearwaters. Skokholm, like any top migration site, can be a stunning place on the right day and will provide some valuable data for conservation.

Thanks to Steve Sutcliffe for letting us know and for the photos.

08 October 2012

Late brood

Time is ticking

For many birds, this years nesting season has been hampered with wet weather and low temperatures. As a result, some have been recorded nesting later than they would normally.

On 2 October we received an email from Linda Adam in Devon, who still had a pair of Swallows feeding a brood of chicks! The nest records database shows that of the 45,000 Swallow nest records collected since 1939, only 16 have still had chicks in the nest in October. So this is indeed a very late brood!

Luckily a local ringer Nick Ward was on hand to inspect and ring these chicks, which have now fledged. They will have to gain weight and refine their flying skills quickly before heading south with the other Swallows that are now migrating to South Africa.

Northumbria Swallow roost

Richard Barnes writes:

Northumbria Ringing Group have attempted to catch Swallows at a roost in reedbeds at Birtley Sewage Works in Gateshead since 2006, and up to 2011 have caught almost 5500 birds.

This year, a combination of an easily netted roost site and suitable weather conditions have allowed 9 visits to be made to the roost, resulting in catches of between 205 to 637 birds, giving a total of almost 3500.

In 2010 a Swallow turned up in a mist net on the adjacent CES site bearing a South African ring,  having been ringed in Zambia on 23 Nov 2009. Only 25 Swallows have been caught in Britain or Ireland wearing a South African ring, and on 22 September 2012 we caught another one!

A selection of recoveries of Swallows that were ringed by Northumbria Ringing Group are mapped below (double click to zoom in) but not those recovered by Northumbria Ringing Group and ringed elsewhere.

View Swallow recoveries for Northumbria Ringing Group in a full screen map

Thanks to Linda Adam and Richard Barnes for letting us know and to John Harding for the photo.