Bearded Tit Gritting Report & Reed Warbler Survival

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The Bearded Tit gritting season at RSPB Leighton Moss, has just about finished. In total I have received details of 355 colour ringed sightings of 69 different birds. Of these 41 are adults and 28 birds of the year. Gritting started early this year in mid September and it appears to have finished earlier than usual. The number of times that birds visit varies considerably. Two birds both adults, were recorded on 15 days. While 20 birds were recorded just once. The ones that visit the most usually follow the pattern of gritting for a few days early in the season and then have a second bout of gritting, probably to top up later in the season.One of the joys of watching the birds so relatively close is the pleasure visitors get out of seeing these usually difficult to see birds so close and for so long. Last week I had three people who h...

Bearded Tit Update

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Our birds continue to use the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. So far this season we have had reports of 307 sightings of invidually colour ringed birds. Of these 183 were males and 124 females. This involves 31 Males and 28 females. Of these 7 are 3 years old, 8 2 years,21 one year and 23 are this years juveniles.The number of visits they pay to the grit trays varies greatly.Nineteen have been recorded on one day only. At the other extreme one male has been seen on 14 days. At each visit birds usually stop for 2 to 10 minutes scratching through the grit before moving on to feed on the reed seed.Up to 3 unringed birds have been seen at the trays recently so we were very pleased to catch 3 unringed birds today bringing our total of new birds ringed this year to 33. One question observers at the grit trays often ask is wether tak...
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A Record Day for Bearded Tits

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Just got full details of Steve and Jan's sightings at the grit trays yesterday. In total they identified 39 different colour ringed birds and a minimum of three unringed birds making 42 in all a record for one day. They spent just over 2 and a half hours to amass this data. Best of all they identified three adult females that were new for the year so we now have recorded 24 adult males and 17 adult females. They identified 2 other birds which had not been recorded on the grit trays so far this year making 59 in total. Not far off last years total of 65 and they continue gritting well into December.There is much chasing mainly by the males but we have three grit trays close together so chased birds usually move to a different tray. Some birds have been taking reed seed from the seed heads right after gritting. My impression is that more ar...

Bearded Tit Gritting Latest Results

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Gritting is now in full swing at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve especially on fine reasonably calm days. Although a few have ventured out on less attractive days. To date I have received 201 daily sightings of colour ringed birds although there are a few unringed birds around.To date we have recorded 52 different birds visiting the trays, the make up of the sightings is shown in the table below.Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 TotalMale 3 2 14 10 29Female 4 3 6 10 23Total 7 5 20 20 52To date we have colour ringed 30 young birds in 2017 so two thirds of these have visited the trays. The reserve staff have now put out trays in two new areas near the Griesdale and Jackson Hides. To date there has been no reports of birds using these.This season is following the usual pattern that some birds visit infrequentl...

Early Results from Feeding Stations

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With seven ringing visits to our two feeding stations between late July and early October comparisons with previous years shows some interesting trends. Perhaps most satisfying is the re-resurgence of Greenfinch. We have already caught 42 since late July. This compares with just 28 and 23 in the whole of the last two seasons and we have at least another 8 visits to go to be comparable.Coal tits also are doing well we have caught 60 so far compared to 90 in the whole of last season.But Blue tits are down, only 73 to date compared with 243 last season. Perhaps there is so much natural food around this year for they did really well in our nest boxes.Our colour ringing study of Nuthatch is going well. So far this season Jerry and Barbara have identified 18 birds visiting their feeders compares with 22 in the whole of last season. Our seven ri...

Bearded Tit Gritting Season in Full Swing

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I posted in late September that the Bearded tit gritting season had started early this year. Now it is full swing, up to October 6th we have recorded 77 sightings of colour ringed birds on the trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve This involves 33 different birds of these 28 are adult birds and only 5 birds of the year. This pattern of the adults starting gritting first is quite normal and as the season goes on into December the young birds become much more abundant later in the season.Up to 9 birds have been seen at once on the three trays which are located just off the central causeway of the reserve.However it is very obvious that most birds are in pairs and as I posted before they form pairs when still in juvenile plumage. A good example of this was a pair seen together today they were first colour ringed together on 21st July 20...

Bearded Tits Form Pairs When Juveniles

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In today's windy conditions only two Bearded Tits were recorded on the grit trays by Steve & Jan but they were obviously a pair gritting together on two occasions. They were both first colour ringed as juveniles in July 2016. By early October they had obviously formed a pair for they were recorded together on the grit trays on no less than 12 occasions into November 2016. So far this autumn they have been recorded together on five occasions.We have recorded similar behavior on many occasions over the years proving beyond all doubt that Bearded Tits form pairs in their first late summer/early autumn and if they survive they retain good pair fidelity. We have records of three pairs that remained together for three years and we have no records of pair divorcing!John...

Bearded Tit Gritting Season Gets Underway

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This year has seen an early start to the visits by Bearded Tits to the grit tray at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. The first birds were seen on the 17th which is 6 days earlier than last year. On the 19th there were at least 9 birds at 10.25 including rather surprisingly 2 birds still in juvenile plumage. Of the colour ringed birds identified there was a female ringed as a nestling in May 2016. Another female from the same brood has been re-trapped earlier this year. To date we have identified 21 adult males and 11 adult female Bearded Tits but we have only ringed 22 juveniles as ringing has been restricted this year by bad weather and access difficulties and at the moment by high water levels.The birds need the extra grit in their gizzard for at this time of year they change their diet from insects to mainly the harder reed seed. John...

A Quick Dispersing Merlin

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Mark and team were mist netting Meadow Pipits on the edge of Bowland and to their surprise they caught a juvenile male Merlin. They were even more surprised when they found it was already ringed!We have just got the ringing details. It was ringed as a nestling from a brood of four on July 5th at a confidential site in Swaledale North Yorkshire. It had moved 57 km SSW in 51 days since ringing.But it had probably been ringed a few days before it fledged so it is an amazing quick dispersal for a young bird. Marks superb photo is shown below.John...

Reed Bunting Movements

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The recent catching of a Reed Bunting at Middleton Nature Reserve which had been ringed while wintering in Shropshire set me looking at the movements we have recorded for this partial migrant. Reed Buntings feature in our ringing at Heysham Middleton and Leighton Moss reserves. Over the years we have ringed 4553 up to 2016.The recaptures and recoveries of these show that a number winter around the Gt.Manchester/Merseyside /Cheshire area with 9 recoveries there in winter. Others move a further with 3 reports from the Midlands and 5 along the south coast from Dorset through to Kent.The only bird to buck this southward movement was a bird ringed by us in October and recaptured in Tyne & Wear in the following January.Of birds ringed in spring and summer only 10 were retrapped at the ringing site, 8 in November and one each in December and F...