Monday, 28 March 2011

Quick Update.

The feeding station at Shakerley is beginning to slow down & at some point over the next few weeks, I’ll end the feeding there. Last week I had two ‘lunch time’ sessions catching 15 new birds, 7 recap & 1 control. Two new Willow Tit were a nice surprise, as were a controlled Reed Bunting (L042429), making this the third controlled Reed Bunting at Shakerley during the last 3 weeks! Of the other controlled birds, one was ringed by the Fylde Ringing Group at Moss House Farm, Pilling, Lancs on 26/09/2010. 

P1000714Last week I noticed a Goldfinch roost in my local cemetery of around 60-70 birds. The following evening the roost had dropped to around 40 birds and I got permission to net it on the Thursday evening. By then the roost had dropped further to around 25 birds & I managed a nice little catch of 12 new birds with surprisingly no recaptures.


On Saturday Chris, Zac & myself had an early start as we travelled south for various reasons. Chris & Zac where going cannon netting gulls in Gloucester and I was attending a conference at Slimbridge. So it was late when we finally got back to Manchester & we were well and truly tired! On Sunday morning, still tired the three of us were sat in the conservatory when Zac noticed a small flock of birds landing in the tree at the back of the garden, I dismissed these as Starling and continued to mope around on the couch – but Zac was a little more intrigued and went for a closer look. These birds turning out to be Waxwing! Although we didn’t attempt to catch this small flock, it was rewarding to see that one bird was colour ringed! So we’ll post more details on this bird soon.

Finally yesterday (27th) we got the ball rolling with 2011’s pulli season & ringed our first Wood Pigeon chicks!


Friday, 25 March 2011

2A00 Goes to Norway!

Checking through emails this morning, I was particularly excited to have received an email from Morten Helberg with a sighting of Black-headed Gull 2A00.

MEMO0005 2A00 was the first bird to volunteer it’s services for the start of our new project, when we managed to catch it at Bowness on Windermere on 01st March 2011. Bird ringer – Robin Sellers sighted this bird at the ringing location on 17th March 2011 and the next sighting (24th March) came in this morning by Morten from Radhuskaia, Oslo Havn, Oslo Norway!

2A00 map



2A00 in flight!

Many thanks to Morten & Carsten for reporting this & for the above photos. Me & Ciaran were only joking with Carsten several weeks ago that we asked one of our gulls to go to Norway to see Carsten! Perhaps we should have a quiet word with all the birds we catch!!

It’s nice to know that the darvics are working well, seeing as though we’ve only marked 6 birds so far!! Roll on next winter….

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mission Accomplished!!!

On Thursday 3rd March a birder photographed a Turnstone carrying a Norwegian ring at Kinmel Bay, Rhyl in North Wales. Unfortunately not all of the code was photographed, so members of the SCAN ringing group quickly got together a team of ringers & helpers and this morning we set two nets on the beach, in the hope that we would catch the Norwegian ring bearing visitor!

Happenings were looking very good this morning as the high tide pushed good numbers of Sanderlings, along with small numbers of Dunlin up towards the beach. A number of Turnstone were 'twinkled' from another part of the bay, which beautifully placed them near the catching area. A bit more twinkling by Steve got the birds into the catching area, followed by his go-ahead for the catch to take place. 61 Sanderling, 17 Dunlin and 30 Turnstone were captured.... including the Norwegian ringed bird, which made all the effort worthwhile!
The 61 Sanderling was an added bonus, as apparently prior to this catch - the group had ringed 5 individuals, mainly due to Sanderling being uncommon in North Wales!
Thanks to Chris Bridge for the above photos.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Touch of Pink!

This morning I was asked to help our aviculture team at WWT Martin Mere to round up the Chilean Flamingos, for their annual health check. The avics wanted me to take the biometric measurements of the birds, which consists of measuring both the skull & tarsus of each bird. So not technically wild bird ringing, I thought a bit of flamingo handling was too much of a good opportunity to miss out on & generally that Flamingo round ups are always good fun!
How to weigh a Flamingo!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Southport to Salisbury.

Thanks to Shayne Ford for getting in touch with a sighting of a colour ringed Coot. Shayne photographed the below bird on the River Avon in Salisbury City Centre, Wiltshire - this morning.

Orange BTO / White Orange was ringed at Southport Marine Lake on 11/12/2010 as an adult bird and this is the first sighting of it since ringing - 299km.. This is now the 2nd furthest mover from the cr-ringing project, the other bird - also ringed at Southport, was sighted in Cornwall in December 2010 - clocking up 390km.

Many thanks go to Shayne for reporting this & for the above photo!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

More BHG...

Hand catching Black-headed Gulls has been quite difficult recently, mainly due to the milder weather & birds not being brave enough to venture near our catching hands! Yesterday at Preston Docks with Ciaran & Craig it appeared, at first, that we would be in for another bad day. However around lunch time more gulls were on the scavenge for free titbits from passers-by and soon after a bit of patience began to pay off, when Ciaran managed to catch 5 birds.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Last Few Days & a Goodbye…

Over the last several days Ciaran, Chris, Zac Hinchcliffe, Chris Piner and myself have been out & about ringing at a number of our sites.

Sunday (27th) saw us catching in Michael & Mary’s garden in Worsley, however at first it didn’t look too promising when looking out of the window as the rain fell hard. But several cups of tea later it cleared & passed over, allowing us to erect a single 30 foot net in front of their feeders.

In total 20 birds were captured consisting of 13 new & 7 recaptures. Six more new Redpoll added to the ever increasing total list, now standing at 76 new birds for Michael & Mary’s garden. The Common (Mealy) Redpoll was also recaptured. Four Siskin also put an appearance in at the feeders, resulting in one being caught – the first to be ringed in the garden. Great Spotted Woodpecker, House Sparrow, Starling and Goldfinch also being captured.

P1000510 P1000486

Two sessions (28th & 02nd) at Shakerley yielded 49 birds of which 35 were new, 13 recaptures & one control. The control was of a Reed Bunting carrying ring – L141944.

All the usual species were caught at Shakerley, however it was nice to catch Redwing, Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting in greater numbers than we normally do at this site.


Photo – Zac Hinchcliffe.

March 1st saw us at Bowness-on-Windermere, where we caught our first Black-headed Gull, for the start of a new project. Just four unringed Canada geese were present at Bowness, which were soon caught and now have new shiny rings. One each of Greylag goose, Mallard and Common Gull joined the days totals. Having some spare time on our hands, allowed us to capture 53 Mute Swan to check on the conditions of their rings, which later on returning back to IPMR also brought many controls to light.


Finally after our few days of ringing had come to an end & whilst most of the group were all together. It seemed only fitting that we should say good-bye to Ciaran, who in the next few days will be swapping Coot & Gulls for Puffin & Terns as he goes out to work on the Farne Islands for 8 months.

Over a meal in Manchester many words, memories & good byes were said & one thing is for sure we’re all going to miss him! (Getting emotional) lol - I’d like to say thanks to Ciaran for all his help over the last few months, for assisting the Coot project greatly, the many good laughs & for being the bestest mate ever!


‘‘Be well, do good work and keep in touch’’

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

North West Black Headed Gull Study.

Over the last few years we have ringed just under 1000 Black Headed Gulls across the North West. Despite our efforts we have received only a handful of local recoveries and two overseas recoveries: one to Poland and one to Germany. Even more disparaging is the amount of recoveries we have had from chicks ringed in the last two breeding seasons at Killington Reservoir in Cumbria; with just over 800 ringed and only one recovery of 25km!

P1070750 - Copy

With another trip to Killington planned for this summer and having had a successful winter hand catching adults, we decided it would be worthwhile to start using an additional mark aside from the standard BTO metal ring, both to increase recoveries and begin a colour ring study on Black Headed Gulls across the North West.

The main aims of the study are to look into:

  • Dispersal from natal colony (Killington Reservoir)
  • To study winter site fidelity (At all other sites, where adults can be caught)
  • Interchange between study sites.
  • Longevity
  • To document general movements within the UK & abroad.

In addition to a metal ring on the right leg, we will place dark blue darvics on the left leg, each with a different code which will make each bird identifiable as an individual.


The Colour Scheme will be as follows:

One Dark Blue Darvic on the left leg with White lettering and a four digit code.

All codes start with the number 2 followed by one letter and two numbers. E.G. 2A23

There will be an additional metal ring placed on the right leg.

There is also an email address printed on the ring which is

All sightings should be sent to this address, this will make it easier for either myself or Kane to respond to the sightings as they will all be in one place!


The inspiration for the project came when we were driving around the county catching Coot to colour ring. It became obvious to us that the best sites for catching coot were also the best sites for catching or reading the rings of Black-headed gulls. So the colour ringing of Coot and gulls really are symbiotic studies!


Photo by Zac Hinchcliffe.

Also, at almost every site we went to there was a ringed Black- headed gull, with last year being a fantastic year for controls, but unfortunately none of our Killington birds! John Wells in the Cotswolds suggested that with the numbers of birds we were catching we should start using darvics as his group has great success with them. Having considered it ourselves after getting very little information back from nearly 1000 birds, we quickly got the project up and running!

We envisage the project to last for at least 5 years and it will hopefully not only increase the amount of recoveries we receive but also enable us to build a migration map for black headed gulls in the North West of England and learn more about the movements of these charismatic birds. So next time you’re out feeding the birds, keep an eye out for any birds with blue left legs and please send us your sightings

Ciaran Hatsell.