Source North Lancs Ringing Group

A Record Day

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Yesterday was something of a record day. We caught 4 Cetti's Warblers in one net line. We have only caught singles before of this recent colonist. Up to 5 or 6 birds have been singing at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. One assumes that our catch originates from these breeding birds. However last October we controlled a bird which had been ringed just 38 days previously at Wood Walton Fen in Cambridgeshire a movement of 299 km in 38 days. So you never know.

We also caught our third Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn and 8 Siskin the best catch so far this autumn.

But the most unusual catch was of a pair of Bearded Tits with consecutive ring numbers. I was amazed to find that they had been ringed as nestlings in the same nest in April 2014. We have ringed 673 nestling Bearded Tits as part of our long term study of this species. Many have been retrapped as adults but this is the first time we have recorded siblings as an apparent pair. Our observations do suggest that Bearded Tits do form lasting pairs. Interestingly neither of these birds have been recorded on the grit trays over the past two years.
John

Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Bearded Tit Gritting Season in Full Swing

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To date we have recorded 50 different colour ringed Bearded Tits using the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. Of these, 27 are adult birds and 25 of this years young. No un-ringed birds have been recorded to date.

The first birds have been arriving on most days around 08.00 and the last leaving around 11.30. Wednesday the 12th was the best day this week when due to dedicated coverage by Alan, Pauline and Judith Gallagher no fewer than 28 birds visited the tray to stock up on grit as they change their diet from soft insects to the much harder reed seed.

To date in our ringing study this year we have identified 21 adult males and 17 adult females. Of these 38, at least 27 have visited the grit trays. Productivity appears to have been rather low as to date we have only caught and colour ringed 27 young birds of which an amazing 25 have visited the grit trays. We have this year been restricted to just three sites due to difficulty of access so we may have missed some but you wold expect unringed birds to start appearing.
John

Source North Lancs Ringing Group

A Bearded Tit Weekend

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A great weekend for the 24th year of our Bearded Tit study at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. With excellent ringing weather on Sunday and much activity on the grit trays. In total we recorded 43 birds. This included 21 mist netted including six not ringed before and 22 on the grit trays. All the grit tray sightings were of colour ringed birds, not an unringed bird in sight! So far for our RAS study we have caught or sighted 30 adults- 16 males and 14 females. Two were first ringed as juveniles in 2013, 13 in 2014 and 15 in 2015. We usually pick up more adults over the next 10 weeks or so of the gritting season. I estimate that the breeding population this year is ca. 25 pairs.

Most of the birds visiting the grit trays at the start of the season are adults. This was true of a party of five today.A male and a female gritted together and were obviously a pair. They gritted together in early October 2015. If they both survive Bearded Tits seem to pair as juveniles and remain together for life. We keep detailed records of all sightings. Many birds are recorded gritting on only one day but some occur on up to 17 days. Often birds grit early in the season then have a break and return later.

John


Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Nuthatch Project Latest Report

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The Group started colour ringing Nuthatch in spring 2015 with the view to starting an RAS (Retrapping Adults for Survival) on this species.Our activities have been centered round the well wooded Silverdale area where we have two feeding stations and seven nest box schemes. In total we have colour ringed 75 birds of which 44 have been nestlings.

Most of the adults have been ringed in Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden. They have meticulously recorded almost daily sightings. Between mid August and early April we colour ringed 22 adults there.Of the 16 ringed in August and September 2015 no fewer than 11 were still visiting the feeders a year later. This gives a yearly survival of 69.8%. We have had five ringing sessions in their garden since late summer and have only retrapped two giving a survival rate of only 12.5%. Certainly shows the value of colour ringing and close observation and recording and plenty of bird food!.

We did however catch and colour ring seven new birds on our five ringing sessions. Obviously young birds moving in. Two of them were from the same brood and had been ringed in a nest box two km. away. A bird ringed for the first time in late February and not seen again was sighted at feeders 3 km away from July on.
John
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Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Bearded Tit Gritting Season Gets Underway

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Spent nearly two hours watching the grit trays at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve this morning, hoping to get sightings of our colour ringed Bearded Tits. Just about to pack up when a male appeared at 09.33 and spent ca 4 mins gritting.

At home checked its details on IPMR. It had been ringed as a juvenile in June 15th 2015 and had been seen at a successful nest in one of our reed wigwam nest box in early June 2016. The fascinating thing is that it was one of the first birds to start gritting in 2015 being seen on the trays first on 20th September.In total it was recorded on the trays on 11 days in autumn 2016 between September 20th and 23rd October.Bearded Tits need grit in the gizzard because this time of year they change their diet from insects to the much harder reed seed. A German study found up to 850 pieces of grit in one gizzard in autumn but only 35 in spring.

Like last year it looks like an early start to the season. In the three years 2012 to 2014 gritting didn't start until September 29th. When in full swing gritting usually starts ca an hour after sunrise and last for around 2-3 hours from late September to mid December. The grit trays are along side the path which crosses the reserve.

John

Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Reed Warbler RAS Results

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Just about the end of the Reed warbler season and a chance to compare this season's results with previous years. This is the 20th year of our study at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve where we run a Reed Warbler RAS as a side line to our main study of the Bearded Tit populations.

Due mainly to poor ringing weather especially early in the season our visits at 33 have been lower than usual,this compares with 46 in 2015.

We caught 104 adults(61 new and 43 retraps). This compares with 140 (84 new and 56 retraps) adults last year, but allowing for the drop in effort early in the season it does suggest a possible small drop in the breeding population. Productivity though has been better with 350 juveniles ringed compared to 267 last year and possibly a few yet to come if we get out in the next few days.

Of the retrap adults the oldest was 8 years, one at 5 years and 5 at four years. A highlight was the catching of a Spanish ringed bird ringed on autumn passage in North Spain, only our fifth from that country although we have had 29 from France, 8 from Portugal and 4 from Morocco.One of our juveniles ringed on July 6th was caught 31 days later at Icklesham East Sussex.
John

Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Good Productivity by Resident Species

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It certainly looks as though most of our resident species have had a good breeding season. To date we have made four post breeding season visits to Jerry and Barbara's woodland edge garden and caught 375 different birds. This compares with last seasons 13 visits between August and April when we handled 571 individuals. We are using the same 100 foot of mist nets throughout

So far this season we have caught 90 Great Tits compared to 85 in the whole of last season. Bullfinch at 25 compared to just 21 last season and we have already caught 22 Great Spotted Woodpeckers the same as last season. Blue Tits totaled 153 last season but already this season we have caught 133. Most other species have done really well the one exception is Coal Tit with only 16 so far this season compared to 115 last season in total. Few Coal Tits breed locally and we usually get an influx from breeding areas further north later in the season.

Good productivity is shown by the high numbers of juveniles in the catch. Blue Tits are typical 91% were juveniles compared to 63% last season after poor productivity.

John

Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Blue tits have Excellent Productivity

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After an excellent breeding season in our nest boxes with good sized broods and very few dead youngsters we expected good numbers of tits this summer in our mist netting sites. Our predictions proved true and although I have not got full details from all Group members as yet, all report good numbers of young birds, especially Blue Tits during August. For the catch of 240 that I have the data for, the percentage of adult Blue Tits in the catch is very low at just 5% suggesting excellent productivity. This compares with 2015 when after a poor breeding season the adult percentage was 37 % suggesting very low productivity.

Great Tit suggest a similar pattern although we ring smaller numbers (74) but Adult percentage is 16% compared to 31% last year.

Willow Warblers continue to pass through in good numbers, although as would be expected in smaller numbers than mid month but Chiffchaff have increased.

John

Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Willow Warblers Still on a Roll

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A record catch of 88 Willow warblers today at Leighton Moss brought our total catch for the year to 382, 97 more than the whole season in 2015 and they usually continue to pass through to early September. Suggests an excellent breeding season for this species. Included in today's catch was an adult control, will be interesting to see where it originates from. Other birds caught included 42 Reed Warblers and 17 Sedge Warblers, a Tree Pipit and a Whitethroat added variety.

Source North Lancs Ringing Group

Willow Warblers on a Roll

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Our recent catches at Leighton Moss have been dominated by Willow Warblers, partly because the nets in the reed bed have been exposed to wind reducing the catch of Reed Warblers and Bearded Tits but the  nets near willows are more sheltered. However its interesting to compare this years catch with the  same period over the past three years. To date this year we have caught 225, this compares with an average catch of just 107 over the past three years. This suggests good productivity this year in common with many other species. Our local Willow Warblers  have maintained their populations. However ringing recoveries from previous years suggest that  the bulk of the passage population originates in Scotland with 15 recoveries there mainly in the breeding season. We have also ringed more Chiffchaff although their main passage period is usually a little later.
John