17 December 2015

The twelve recoveries for Christmas

Partridge in a Pear Tree
There is no mention of a Pear tree on the BTO BirdFacts pages for Grey Partridge however we do have 127 recoveries for this species. Most of these recoveries are of shot birds, as you would expect, but we do have several that have been radio tagged and the mortalities reported. One of the predators of these is quite surprising. Click here to open this recovery

Two Turtle Doves
We have even fewer recoveries for Turtle Dove (101) on the system, due to a severe decline in numbers since the late-1970s. As a result, they are still on the 'Red List' of 'Birds of Conservation Concern'. These reports are mainly of birds found dead, shot or found after being killed by a predator but it is pleasing to see that 73 of these reports are from ringers re-catching ringed birds; helping to further understand their decline and movements.

Recoveries Of Turtle Dove for Britain & Ireland
You'd have to have good eyes to get this recovery. Click here to open this recovery

Three French Hens
Even though our Ringing Scheme doesn't ring chickens, it does ring the majestic Hen Harrier. There has been some great work in recent years on wing tagging Hen Harriers, increasing the life histories of these birds from their breeding quarters to their wintering areas. One bird getting an amazing 87 sightings compressed into just two years.

For our selected recovery, it has to be a French one though. Click here to open this recovery.

Four Calling Birds
At this time of year the Tawny Owl is starting to think about the up and coming breeding season and on those frosty nights, can be heard calling to each other. One recovery that you haven't seen the report for was a Tawny Owl ring found in Iceland! This caused some confusion here in the Ringing Team, as we have never had a foreign recovery of Tawny Owl. After much investigation we found out that this ring was put on a Tawny Owl chick, which died in the nest. This ring was collected (to avoid subsequent reporting) and put on the ringer's binoculars. After a binocular strap broke on a birding trip to Iceland, this ring was later found and reported to our Ringing Scheme.

Our chosen recovery however is different and is an unusual way to go. Click here to open this recovery.

Tawny Owl. Photograph taken by Lee Barber

Five Gold Rings
One of the highlights for 2015 were the numbers of Goldcrest caught. We posted previously just how good the Goldrush was.

The chosen recovery has links with the three French Hens. Click here to open this recovery to understand how.

Six Geese a-Laying
How can we not look at goose nest records after a title like this!? For 2015, the BTO Nest Record Scheme has received 108 Canada Goose, 49 Greylag Goose and seven Egyptian Goose nest records. This has remained stable but very low over the years. If you have any records please let the Nest Record Scheme know.

An amazing recovery from the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust. Click here to open this recovery.

Seven Swans a-Swimming
One of our highest reported groups of birds are swans. Being large, white and living in populated places they are easily found and reported. Many land on roads thinking they are rivers and being less maneuverable they do crash into wires, walls and bridges.

One of our Thetford, Norfolk colour ringed Mute Swans this morning, showing just how easy it is to get colour ring sightings. Photograph taken by Lee Barber
The Bewick's Swan is famous for it's migration route but this recovery points out they do live a long time. Click here to open this recovery of 28 years!

Eight Maids a-Milking
We were not able to find any maids in the BTO ringing database but there are quite a few cows mentioned. Unfortunately, it seems like they are not too keen on swans which can get trampled. We have a very different recovery involving a Sparrowhawk for our chosen recovery. Click here to open this recovery.

Nine Ladies Dancing
The Great Crested Grebe is famous for it's pair bonding display, where it rises out of the water and dances on the surface. Few grebes are ringed and even fewer are found later, giving a grand total of eight records to choose from. How the finder got this recovery is unknown but it probably took hours. Click here for the recovery.

Great Crested Grebe. Photograph taken by Chris Knights

Ten Lords a-Leaping
This may be a tenuous link but in the movie, 'Lord of the Rings', Gandalf leaps off Saruman's tower onto a Great Eagle. This looks remarkably like a Golden Eagle and we have 35 recoveries of this species. Click here to open this recovery.

Eleven Pipers Piping
Not 11 records of a Purple Sandpiper, but just one. This is the number of records we have of dead Purple Sandpipers. By re-catching 'purps' our valued ringers have increased the information on this species by 928 records. These include the data from a colour-ringing project in Norway which has produced an amazing 51 sightings in Britain & Ireland. Click here to open this recovery.

Twelve Drummers Drumming
The Snipe is famous for its drumming breeding display and we have received quite a few recoveries of this species over the years from 24 other countries. One of these was from one of our Constant Effort Sites (CES). Only one Snipe has been ringed at Cranwich CES to date and so far there is a 100% recovery rate for this species. Click here to open this recovery.

Measuring a Snipe. Photograph taken by Lee Barber
The Demography Team wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year

08 December 2015

One Tern Turns the Tabloids

Continuing the seabird theme of last week, today's post is about Lesser Crested Terns (Thalasseus bengalensis).

Lesser Crested Terns are widespread. They breed in subtropical coasts in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and in the Western Pacific in Australia. Outside the breeding period they range roughly in the same areas.

We occasionally receive reports of these birds, as shown on the map below, mainly from West India, Sri Lanka and one from Sumatra. Not too surprising as all these reports are located within the normal distribution range for this species. 

You may be surprised to learn that BTO rings have been used for a species of bird that normally doesn't occur in Britain & Ireland. But this is not the first time we have written about ringing abroad with BTO rings. Our ringers use our rings abroad in countries where there is not an established bird ringing scheme. One of such countries is Bahrain, a small island country in the Persian Gulf, where some of our ringers monitor breeding terns, including Lesser Crested Terns. Other BTO ringers ringing abroad work in Gambia, South Georgia, Falkland Islands and the Seychelles.

The map below shows where the Lesser Crested Terns ringed in the Bahrain have been recovered and reported. The yellow pin is the ringing site in Bahrain and the red pins are the places where they have been found.

What prompted sharing this story was the media craze that one bird generated in Sri Lanka last week because it was wearing a BTO ring. We received multiple reports from different people, including the finder, a wildlife ranger, an environmental journalist and someone who read the story on the paper. Hopefully as more people are aware of bird ringing, this will increase the reporting of birds and aid their conservation.

To our knowledge, the finding of this bird was on the Sri Lankan News website: Ceylon Today (below). Hiru News had an interesting headline and it featured in a nice article in the Sunday Times (from Sri Lanka).

From Ceylon Today (LITE) on the 29/11/2015

Headline from the Hiru News

Image from Rodrigo Malaka's comprehensive article in the Sunday Times