Ringing summary – winter 2016

Strong winds and heavy rain between Nov and Feb were unfavourable for ringing, although we didn’t let it stop us all together. Winter ringing started around the Tip – a bumper Hawthorn crop meant lots of thrushes, and several sessions resulted in modest numbers of Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Blackbird and a few bonus birds including Sparrowhawk. Thrush ringing continued at the site into early Dec until the berry crop began to run out and birds moved inland. Numerous large continental blackbirds were rung here during Dec, including some of the largest individuals of the year.

Snipe (Dan Lombard)

Snipe (Dan Lombard)

A couple of FBOG members at the southern end of the recording area kindly gave us permission to ring in their back garden, which was visited in December and January and allowed us to continue passerine study at the observatory over the late winter months. The garden has been a great success with a wide diversity of species, but notably an opportunity to gather data on key Red List (BoCC 2015) species like House Sparrow and Tree Sparrow, as well as highlights including both Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Perhaps the biggest surprise so far has been the turnover of common garden birds: in two sessions, 27 Dunnocks, 29 Blue Tits and 10 Robins, with the latter including both rubecula (from continental Europe) and melophilus (British) birds. All this leads to an amazing insight into just how many birds visit a typical garden and from how far away some of them come.

Woodcock, captured by dazzling on the Rocket Pole Field (Dan Lombard)

Woodcock, captured by dazzling on the Rocket Pole Field (Dan Lombard)

In respect to ringing, as a bird observatory we have the two following obligations to uphold if we are to maintain our status:

1.3 The Observatories shall participate in such co-operative programmes of research as shall be agreed between the BOC and the Trust.
1.5 The Observatory will maintain a programme of bird ringing within their recording area. They will submit data from this ringing programme to the Trust as required under the rules of the Trust’s Ringing Scheme. They will also use their best endeavours to supply additional ringing data, which may be requested by the Trust after consultation with the BOC, for specific projects.

Purple Sandpiper re-trapped on the Brigg, this winter - this was the first individual ringed on the Brigg in 2011 (Dan Lombard)

Purple Sandpiper re-trapped on the Brigg, this winter – this was the first individual ringed on the Brigg in 2011 (Dan Lombard)

Currently, ringing in Filey primarily targets passerines and near-passerines. In order to gain a more holistic understanding of bird ecology and migration within the bird observatory ,we’re trying to broaden the approach and further the importance of bird ringing here. In order to do this we have begun trialling a few approaches to target key non-passerines groups (which ringing currently fails to cover) which are not too invasive towards our birding community whilst still gathering sufficient data for the observatory.

The first method is dazzling, whereby birds are captured at night with the use of a spotting torch and a landing net. The second method is the use of small mesh walk in traps, which are located at wetland sites within the area. So far using these techniques we have ringed a diversity of species including Mallard, Moorhen, Water Rail, Woodcock, Common Snipe, Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting.

Dan Lombard & the FBOG ringing team