28 August 2013

The return of Sanderling NT88726

Below, Richard du Feu recalls one of those amazing moments when you meet an old friend on its travels...

"In the 25 years since my first visit to the Wash as a 9-year-old boy, there have been many memorable and interesting individual birds I have ringed and retrapped. But I have no doubt that NT88726 will remain as one of the highlights for many years to come.

Originally the Wash Wader Ringing Group caught this Sanderling in September 2010 and ringed it as a moulting adult. Fast forward to November 2012 when I joined an expedition to Portugal with members of the Farlington Ringing Group, primarily to work on Black Tailed Godwit and Sanderling. There in amongst a small catch of Sanderling near Lisbon was a British ringed Sanderling that I recognised as a bird ringed on the Wash. Colour rings were added as part of a project run by the University of Groningen (see the photo below, courtesy of Justin Walker).

On the recent WWRG summer trip to Snettisham, Norfolk, I was fortunate enough to be present when NT88726 was once again caught and, as in 2010, this bird was moulting.

NT88726 adds to our understanding of the Sanderling life-cycle and shows how important the Wash is, not only for the birds that winter on the Wash but also for birds that winter far south of the UK, using the large food resource of the Wash as a place to moult and fatten up for the long flight to their wintering grounds.

I look forward to resighting this special bird in Portugal in November."

14 August 2013

BTO at the Birdfair

Described as a birdwatchers' Glastonbury, the Birdfair celebrates its 25th Anniversary year. It continues to raise awareness and funds for declining species and habitats. This year it will support Birdlife International's Flyway Programme, focusing specifically on the Americas.

From Friday 16 - Sunday 18 August at Rutland Water, there will be hundreds of stands covering all aspects of birdwatching. The BTO will be there again this year in marquee 3 (stands 36, 37, 38), and are looking forward to seeing you, so come over and have a chat.

BTO stand - Marquee 3

As well as this, we will of course be at the Ringing Demonstration near Marquee 7, so please come over to say hello and find out all about ringing. There is usually lots to see including the regular Reed and Sedge Warblers, Blue and Great Tits but there have been some more unusual birds including Kingfisher, Turtle Dove, Sparrowhawk and Tawny Owl.

Ringing demonstration - Valuable data is collected on a Sedge Warbler

09 August 2013

Autumn migration underway

August is a great time to be out birdwatching and also ringing and nest recording. At this time of year birds including finches and pigeons are still nesting, but some have already finished breeding for the year and are starting to migrate, like our BTO Cuckoos. Waders start moving through our country at this time of year and we have had reports of Swallows starting to gather and Swifts leaving the country (graph below).

BirdTrack reporting rate for Swift

With the migration and dispersal of birds there are often interesting recoveries or sightings. Some recoveries from July include a Lesser Black-backed Gull ringed on the Isle of May, Fife in 1995 and seen in Spain (2170km), a Gannet ringed on Sule Skerry, Orkney in 2005 caught by another ringer in Iceland and a Spotted Redshank from The Netherlands had its ring read in Norfolk!

Gannet colony - Nigel Clark

One of the big stories was a sighting of a Balearic Shearwater being seen North West of Annet, Isles of Scilly. Not only is it the first ever report of a Balearic Shearwater wearing a ring in UK or Irish waters, but this bird was also wearing a small geolocator. To help save this critically endangered species, these loggers record the movements and behaviour of the bird while it is away from the breeding grounds. For more information on this data-logging project click here.