16 July 2014

Namibian Common and Spanish Roseate 'tern' up in the UK

We often blog about the photographers capturing images of ringed birds (such as the Spanish Black-necked Grebe, wandering Bearded Tits, Sandwich Tern in the USA, a lost Snow Bunting and a returning Great Grey Shrike), but we do also get plenty of people reading rings with good optics.

We recently received a run of reports of ringed Common Terns read with a 'scope at Preston Dock. Most of these were birds ringed at Shotton Steel Works or Banks Marsh on the Ribble estuary; all relatively local if you're a long-distance migrant. Interestingly, these birds were all at least five years old (and up to 11 years old), but then the recent decline/crash at Shotton means there are fewer birds to resight, so the story is never that simple! It's not all bad news at Shotton though, as the colony has recovered somewhat this year, with over 350 chicks ringed recently.

But two birds also really demonstrate what these birds get up to when not on our shores. 4H58786 was a bird ringed in Namibia in March 2011 and currently paired up with an egg at Preston Docks: there are fewer than 10 records of Namibian-ringed Common Terns in the UK. The other ring was a French ring, M26822, possibly ringed in Senegal in or around 2000, but details aren't clear yet. More details on Common Tern movements can be found in the latest version of the BTO's Online Ringing Report.

4H58786 at Preston Dock (Paul Slade)

This sequence of photos shows the effort needed to read a ring
from photos, but the effort was certainly worth it (Chris Batty)
Interestingly, Preston Dock also produced another fascinating recovery report recently. A ringed Great Skua found there on 15th June proved to be from Norway (ringed on in Herøy in August 2013), but had to be taken into care by RSPCA. Extra details and photos of this bird are on the Bamber Bridge Birder blog.

NOS 3033460 before being taken into care by RSPCA (c) Bamber Bridge Birder
As if the run of records from Preston Dock wasn't enough, the northeast hit back last week with an equally notable ring read. Coquet Island is well known as the largest British (and only English) breeding colony of Roseate Terns and birds from here are regularly ringed by the Northumbria Ringing Group (experience the thrill of a ringing visit to the island on this BBC Radio4 Living World programme). But when the RSPB warden Wez Davies recently read ring 1V015109 it certainly wasn't a BTO ring! This turned out to be a bird ringed at Salinas de la Tapa, Cadiz, Spain in August 2010.

Northumbria Ringing Group hard at work on Coquet Island

What makes this ring read so exceptional is that it's the first EVER recovery of a foreign-ringed Roseate Tern in the UK. Ringing of birds as chicks is commonplace at the few extant colonies, and we have over 500 foreign recoveries of these birds (all detailed in the Online Ringing Report - it really is a great source of information!), including over 260 in Ghana, 32 in Ivory Coast and 18 in Togo.

***STOP PRESS*** We've also just heard from Coquet Island that after reading the Spanish Roseate Tern ring, warden Wez has also found a dead Common Tern with a 'Pretoria' ring on it: 4H51221. This could be a bird ringed in South Africa but, as for the above bird from Preston Dock, could also be from Namibia. Watch this space for further details...

Thanks to Paul Ellis for the reports, from the Fylde Bird Club website, of the Preston Dock birds and to Tom Cadwallender and Chris Redfern for chasing up the Coquet records.

1 comment:

  1. News just in - the Preston Great Skua above was successfully rehabilitated by RSPCA and released back into the wild, so it might not be the last we hear of 3033460.