Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Recoveries January 2016

January 2016 has two recoveries of note (returned to us by the BTO (British Trust of Ornithology) in January rather than recovered in January). Recoveries will become a common theme on this blog and basically concern the recovery of a ring on a bird which has already been rung. So this could be a bird which another ringer has caught in their net, or more often than not one that a member of the public has found dead, injured or just got close enough to observe the ring on the living bird. If you do find a bird with a ring on details of how to report this to the BTO and contribute to bird conservation can be found in the link below.


Recoveries for January concerned two birds a Greenfinch and perhaps more notably a Goldcrest.

The Goldcrest was rung in Filey on the 12th October 2015 and was subsequently recaptured on the 17th October 2015 at Llangorse Lake, Powys, mid-Wales (see map). This constitutes to a trip of 323km (assuming it flew in a straight line) in 5 days. Many of our Goldcrests in Autumn are Scandinavian, central and eastern European birds (from our ringing data) so it is likely this bird made landfall and carried on to winter in the milder south west or further south into Europe.

Goldcrest jan16

Goldcrest Recovery Map

The second bird, a Greenfinch, was rung in Filey on the 30th August 2015 as a juvenile Female and was unfortunately found freshly dead in Hunmanby, North Yorkshire on the 10th January 2016 133 days after ringing (see Map). This local movement of 6km is fairly typical of our resident greenfinch, especially having had such a mild winter. Unfortunately a lot of recoveries are of dead birds however this still gives us valuable information on how long individuals are living, key periods of mortality and in some cases mortality hotspots. Greenfinch are particularly susceptible to a protozoan parasite called Trichomoniasis which frequently affects birds in urban areas where they gather at artificial feeding stations (creating mortality hotspots). We can also identify if certain sexes or ages are more susceptible to different forms of mortality, as we see with juvenile Greenfinch and Trichomoniasis. More details of this illness and greenfinch can be seen below in Return of the Greenfinch.

Greenfinch jan16

Greenfinch Recovery Map


Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Purple Patch

With consistent strong winds and heavy rain coupled with Christmas over the past month or so, ringing has  had to take a little bit of a back seat in the observatory, hence the quiet nature of the blog over this period. However ringing is back with a bang in 2016, with some fantastic records already flowing in and plenty more interesting data being collected by the team. Stay tuned for information on our new Hunmanby Gap site which is already showing an amazing insight into some of our garden birds, a new project ringing rails and ducks on the wetlands in the observatory, an exciting Tree Sparrow project, getting ready for spring passerine migration and our continuation of wader ringing.

A familiar wintering species on the Brigg, Purple Sandpipers have declined dramatically over the past 50 years on a local and global scale.

A familiar wintering species on the Brigg, Purple Sandpipers have declined dramatically over the past 50 years on a local and global scale.

Recently we have resumed wader ringing on the Brigg by dazzling, we will hopefully resume mist netting in the future if we can get enough volunteers within the group. However dazzling can be an effective way of catching coastal waders particularly Purple Sandpipers and Dunlin.  Purple Sandpipers in particular are a species which have seen numbers drop dramatically over the past 50 years or so, especially in a local context. This makes ringing data particularly useful if it can give us clues as the where these birds are going, how long they are living, their condition, population dynamic, site fidelity, morphological change and so on. More pieces to the ever changing puzzle does help with conservation and legislation.

Purple Sandpipers are a wintering (non-breeding)/passage visitor to Filey, which breed over a large part of the Arctic and sub-Arctic from Canada to the Taimyr Peninsula in Russia. They show a range of wintering strategy’s, with some even being quite sedentary, compared to many of its relatives which migrate long distances. The Canadian populations tend to be the most migratory, with many on the North Sea coasts moving only short distances (for a wader!) across the sea. British recoveries have come from as far away as Greenland and Svalbard, with most from Norway and Sweden.

This was the first individual ringed on the Brigg in recent times back in 2011

This was the first individual ringed on the Brigg in recent times back in 2011

Earlier this week we captured a very special bird (to us) it was in fact the first purple Sandpiper that we rung in Filey (in recent years). This bird was rung on the 28th August 2011 as an adult bird on the Brigg by Lucy. This not only makes for an absolutely fantastic site fidelity (return to a previously occupied area) record but also shows the bird to be over 5 years old. Even with their relatively short migration strategy, assuming this bird is part of the Norwegian breeding population it may have flown some 7,500 kilometres between its breeding grounds and Filey. However given the large breeding range of the species this figure could be well over 10,000 km. Very impressive from a bird not much bigger than a greenfinch. Hopefully we will be able to get some data back from these birds and see just where thy are going.