Tuesday, 28 April 2015

April news

The year to date, ringing wise, has been reasonably productive. A good breeding season last summer and a mild winter (the second in a row) has helped survival of our resident and overwintering species.
This has been reflected at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve (SSNR) where a large number of Reed Buntings interspersed with good numbers of Yellowhammer have been seen in large mixed flocks around the hedgerows and near my netting area.

So far this year I have ringed 34 new Reed Buntings at SSNR (previous year high total was 10 last year and only 20 in total for the site). 9 Yellowhammers have also been ringed this year with 8 caught between September and December last year. None had been ringed on site prior to these. There were far more birds around than I ringed.
Above: A male Reed Bunting. Hopefully these birds will disperse and get reported elsewhere!
News came through recently that a Jay ringed on 06/09/14 was found dead at Freeby Wood, in Leicestershire 73 days later. A movement of 89km, in a NNW direction. This is only the second recorded movement of Jay for the Ivel Ringing Group (IRG). The only other record is of one found dead at Tempsford, 2 km away from the original ringing site in 1991.
There are resident Jays at SSNR, but whether this bird was resident or one that was already on migration will not be known. It does show though that Jays can be mobile during the Autumn/Winter in search of food and suitable wintering grounds. Not many Jays are normally ringed, so last years total of 8 at SSNR was exceptional.

Above: A Jay was retrapped 
This Jay was first ringed on 28/06/13 and retrapped approximately 1 year 9 months later - a new IRG longevity record. This was also the first Jay ringed on site. On the same day as this Jay was retrapped, I ringed a new Magpie (6th for SSNR) and 2 smelly Jackdaws!

Above: A Jackdaw
Below: A male Great Spotted Woodpecker

As I seem to be covering longevity records, the Great Spotted Woodpecker above, also became a site and IRG longevity record during April at 4 years and 1 month. This same bird was the previous record holder! Interestingly, it is only trapped during the breeding season. Perhaps it uses SSNR to breed and goes elsewhere for Autumn and Winter - or else it only needs a supplementary food source (nuts) whilst breeding. New site longevity records for Great Tit and Robin were also set this year. I expect a few more to tumble as the year progresses.
143 new birds of 24 species have so far been ringed at SSNR this year. When you add 'new for year' retraps to the total, 237 individual birds have been handled.
I have been less active at Priory Country Park so far this year, though 2 sessions - including the pre CES visit - were conducted recently. The pick of the birds was this one:

Above: A control (ringed elsewhere) female Blackcap 

The start of the Constant Effort season is only days away (it starts on Sunday) so I will be busy with 2 sites for the summer. Only time will tell what sort of weather will come our way and whether it will be a good breeding season or not. My fingers are definitely crossed in hope!

In other news, last year saw the Ivel Ringing Group database reach over 100,000 records! This is a major achievement for the group. Since 1990, a lot of dedicated volunteer ringers (and other helpers) have helped over the years, to monitor and increase our knowledge of birds on a local and national level. Thank you and well done to everyone.