21 December 2012

Last minute Christmas time news

This week has been a very interesting time to be in the Demography team.

Ringers have a great habit of checking any dead birds they find for rings, as they are well aware that any wild bird could have one. Mark Lawrence for example, was travelling down the road in a car and noticed a dead Blackbird that had been hit by a car but duly stopped to check it for a ring. Amazingly it did indeed have a ring... from Sweden!

During a ringing session this afternoon (21/12/2012) Denise Wawman was ringing in her garden in Somerset and caught a Brambling with a ring. Assuming she had ringed it in a previous year she was rather shocked to read the address on the ring was from Russia! This would be the 3rd ever from the Russian Ringing Scheme.

Brambling - Denise Wawman

The big news is that we have just issued the 6000th ringing permit! Twenty year old Zac Hinchcliffe (below) received this permit recently after ringing over 2,800 birds. He has been on ringing sessions catching Oystercaters and caught birds that could have been even older than he was.

Zac Hinchcliffe with permit number 6000... and a Long-eared Owl chick
Thanks to all our ringers and nest recorders who have done us proud again this year with their efforts during a very wet season and also to everyone who has found and reported a ringed bird.

17 December 2012

Sanderling update

You may remember that we posted a story on the Demog Blog recently regarding a Sanderling that was caught by the Wash Wader Ringing Group wearing a ring from the Switzerland Ringing Scheme. Click here if you missed it.

As Switzerland doesn't have any shoreline we thought that this bird could have been ringed in an African country, which doesn't have it's own ringing scheme and therefore might have used Swiss rings, but we were wrong. This bird was in fact ringed in Switzerland. Not only that but out of a group of 40 birds seen flying over, only two were caught and ringed. The ringing location however is quite amazing. These birds were ringed at Col de Bretolet Ringing Station high in the Swiss Alps!

During foggy conditions these birds were migrating over the Alps when they came low enough for the mist nets. These birds represent the highest attitudinal record for this species in Switzerland, and probably the highest Sanderling ever ringed, at 1925m above sea level.

Mist nets are set from August to November to catch migrating birds. This year a total of 16,456 birds were ringed from 94 species, with the main species being Chaffinch, Robin, Pied Flycatcher, Siskin and Willow Warbler.

Thanks to our colleagues in Switzerland, and to Jacquie Clark for the photos of the Col de Bretolet Ringing Station.

14 December 2012

Common Gull ringed when the Queen was 10 weeks old

Thanks to the Euring reporting website that non-ringers use to report ringed birds, we receive an average of 90 reports of BTO ringed birds per week. This number doesn't include recoveries by letter and ringers catching ringed birds of course. Most of the reports are of recently dead birds but there is a very small percentage of rings that have been found using metal detectors.

The ringing details of these birds take more time to find, as these birds have usually been dead for some time but well worth the effort. One report recently was of a ring that was found on 04 November 2012 at Green Ore, Wells, Somerset by John Durnell. As soon as we read that the ring also had Whitherby, High Holborn, London on the ring we realised how old this ring was.

Ringing in this country first started in 1909 but this ring was placed on a 1st year Common Gull on 3 July 1926 at Ard na Cailc, Dornoch Firth, Highlands! This was a distance of 738km in 31,537 days between ringing and finding (although the bird was dead for most of this). Amazingly ony 28 Common Gulls were ringed in 1926 compared with 716 last year.

Thanks to John Durnell for letting us know and for supplying the photos.

05 December 2012

Kent Common Gull sets new longevity record

Derick Hiemstra and his 69-year-old father (below) are dedicated gull ringers in The Netherlands, ringing from their garage at Surhuisterveen. When they caught Common Gull EK42603 on 1st December, they noticed that the ring was rather worn, and as this was the first British-ringed Common Gull they'd caught, they were interested to know how old it was.

It turns out that EK42603 was ringed as a first-winter bird at Sandwich Bay (Kent) on 12th January 1985, making it almost 28 years old. This is a new longevity record for a UK Common Gull, beating the previous record of 25 years of an Irish bird.

Quite incredibly, Derick also held the European longevity record, resighting a Danish bird (5003247) almost 34 years after ringing!

But EK42603 now also has a shiny new colour ring (white E61K), so hopefully this isn't the last we'll hear of this OAG.

Check out more UK longevity records online here, and European records here.