22 August 2014

Real birds at the Birdfair

Things are now getting back to normal here at the BTO, after the long weekend at the Birdfair (posted previously). There was a nice buzz around the BTO stand in Marquee 3, with lots of people coming to find out more about the work of the BTO and in particular the Nest Record Scheme.

The mystery nest competition went down well. The nests were from Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Willow Warbler, Wren, Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock and Robin. Of all the correct answers Mick Sherwin from Sheffield was first out of the hat. Your Field Guide to Monitoring Nests is on it's way.

Mystery nest competition

The ringing demonstration attracted a lot of visitors again this year. A total of 232 birds of 20 species were processed. Some of the notable species being Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush and Whitethroat. There were several Reed Warblers caught that had been ringed in previous years, and now have clocked up quite a few miles during their life by going to Africa and back. Once we had processed all the birds, our attention was then switched to ringing people. If you were 'ringed' with one of our wrist bands, check our website to see what happened to you.

Chris Hughes showing the process of ringing a bird

The theme of the Birdfair this year was protecting the world's seas and oceans, so we also had some of our new technologies like geolocators and satellite tags which can be used to study seabirds whilst out at sea.

Thanks to all the volunteer ringers who helped on the ringing demonstration and to everyone who came to say 'Hi' at the demo or the main BTO stand. Looking forward to seeing you next year.

15 August 2014

Come Nest With Us at Birdfair

Now that ex-hurricane Bertha has dropped a few inches of rain across the Midlands, it must be time for the annual extravaganza that is Rutland Birdfair! This year the BTO stand (in Marquee 3) will be busy celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Nest Record Scheme, with expert nest recorders available on the stand all weekend to answer all your nesting questions and impart a few top tips on nest-finding. There will also be a mystery nest challenge for anyone brave enough to give it a go, so why not drop in and say hi if you're passing.

The skeleton of the BTO stand yesterday...
...and the finished product...
...complete with mystery nests to identify
If you time it right, there will also be a Nest Record Scheme 75th birthday cake cut at 11am on Friday, a Breeding Bird Survey 20th birthday cake cut at 11am on Sunday and BTO President Chris Packham will be signing copies of his new book '100 Things That Caught My Eye' on the stand at 4pm on Friday and 2pm on Saturday.

Also come and say hi to more of the Demog Blog team on the ringing demonstration. This year we'll be back behind Marquee 7 by the Red Entrance, so why not come and say hello!

05 August 2014

Overseas Goatsucker in Sussex

Recently we heard of a ring that had been found in a barn, we coded this as 'ring only found' as there was no bird attached to it. When adding the details to the ringing database, it was a nice surprise to see that the ring had once been on the leg of a Nightjar. But, even more interestingly was that this ring had been put on this Nightjar at Jews Gate, the ringing site of the Gibraltar Ringing Group, in the overseas territory of Gibraltar in October 2012.

It would would have been much nicer to receive news that this bird was still alive, but still we thought this was good enough to be mentioned, as the bird must have travelled from its wintering grounds, probably in southern Africa, to the UK at least once.

Nightjar - John Bowers

So this latest Nightjar is the first documented movement between the overseas territory of Gibraltar and the UK, and the second between the Iberian peninsula and the UK.

Found in the online ringing reports...

During the period 1909-2013, a grand total of 6,453 Nightjars have been ringed by ringers in the UK & Ireland, however only 222 of them have been recovered in that period. According to the ringing database, recoveries documenting the movements of Nightjars between the UK and other countries are not very many, 16 in total. Not susprisingly, movements between the UK and France are at the top of this category (11 birds), but there are other five movements between the UK and other countries worth mentioning: Algeria, Morocco, Spain and The Netherlands, which are shown in the map below (ringing and finding sites are paired up by the colour of the pin).

This latest report comes to confirm what our colleagues here at the BTO have revealed with the Nightjar Tracking Project. They were able to map the movements of a bird in a year-long trip across at least 16 countries with the use of a geolocator. They estimated that this bird travelled as far as the Democratic republic of Congo in a 19,000km round trip!