Our targeting of finches at Oakenclough near Garstang paid off again with three very interesting recoveries via the BTO - a Siskin, a Goldfinch and a Lesser Redpoll.
A Goldfinch we ringed with letter/number Z470813 on 18th February 2016 was later recaptured by members of Grampian Ringing Group at Newburgh, Aberdeenshire on 1st March 2017, just over one year later and 381kms north of Oakenclough.
We tend to think of Goldfinches as a somewhat sedentary garden bird but the species is a partial migrant throughout its extensive range in Europe and Asia, with its northern limit approximately along the line of the 60° latitude. Aberdeen is situated at the latitude of 57 degrees.
This first year female had probably moved south to winter in England for 2016/207 but was returning to Scotland as early as 1st March 2017.
Goldfinch - Oakenclough to Aberdeen
The second recovery concerns Siskin with ring number Z470786. Andy and I caught this adult male on 11th February 2016 at Oakenclough. It had a good weight of 14.2 grams suggesting that it was on migration to the conifer forests of Scotland or perhaps Ireland, a typical movement we have seen with other records in the spring. Z470786 was later recaptured 13th April 2017 at the RSPB Bird Reserve of Lake Vyrnwy, Powys, Wales.
Siskins with their unpredictable main food supply are known to make irregular movements in search of food, and an individual does not necessarily winter in the same location each year. RSPB reserves generally have good supplies of bird food on offer to draw in both birds and birders.
Siskin - Oakenclough to Lake Vyrnwy
The third recovery involves a second winter/spring Lesser Redpoll of S295643 that Andy and I caught at Oakenclough as the first bird of the day at 0600 on 8th April 2017. The original ringing details tell us that S295643 was first ringed by Graeme, an ex-member of Fylde Ringing Group who now rings with Cuckmere Ringing Group. The Goldfinch was ringed on 28th October 2016 at Litlington, East Sussex.
This is a classic case of a young Lesser Redpoll migrating south to spend the winter in probably France or Belgium and then returning north in the following spring.
Lesser Redpoll - Litlington to Oakenclough
Meanwhile during my recent holiday in Menorca, another and different outbreak of avian flu occurred in our area at Thornton-Cleveleys in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks. A 3 km Protection Zone and a 10 km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading and there is a ban on ringing in those zones.
Avian flu exclusion zone
These outbreaks are becoming all too frequent but hopefully things will settle down soon. Let's hope so.