Tuesday, 7 January 2020

End of Year Bird Ringing Report - By Kenny Cramer

Dear all,

First of all, let me wish you all a very Happy New Year, I hope 2020 brings you good health, happiness and plenty of everything else you wish for!

2019 has been another amazing year for ringing at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve and our other sites in Milton Keynes. I will attempt to summarise a few of the highlights.

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve

During 2019 we ran 28 ringing sessions resulting in 1084 birds ringed and 345 birds retrapped for a total of 1429 captures. This was slightly behind the 2018 total of 1546, due to several factors including:-

  • poor weather and poor health curtailing ringing activities for much of December
  • less targetting of the feeder site resulting in fewer captures of common tit species
  • mild weather at the end of the year resulting in fewer captures of winter thrushes

2019 did however turn out to be our most diverse in terms of species. We encountered 44 species which beat the previous record of 38 set in 2019. This included 10 species which were new ringing records for the site consisting of Barn Owl, Carrion Crow (caught in a potter trap), Common Tern, Grasshopper Warbler, Kestrel (ringed in the nest), Lesser Whitethroat, Mistle Thrush, Common Snipe, Sparrowhawk and Starling.

It turned out to be a very good year for warblers with record numbers of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat ringed as well as the aforementioned Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. This could be attributed to the density of the vegetation on the bund which seemed to be very attractive, particularly to migrating birds, and allowed for the cutting of some extremely effective net rides resulting in some very large catches.

Long tailed tits also appeared to have had a very successful breeding season with 68 birds newly ringed which is almost double the previous record of 35 back in 2015. 28 new reed buntings was another record beating the 21 ringed in 2018 while a new tawny owl in November was only the second to be ringed at Linford. 2 new green woodpeckers were the first to be ringed at Linford since 2016 and Goldcrest numbers bounced back to 22 after dipping to just 12 in 2018.

On a less positive note, blackbird numbers were down with just 12 new birds ringed, the lowest total since 2015 although this is likely to have been impacted by the mild winter and reduced ringing in December resulting in fewer winter visitors being caught. 4 new bullfinches was our lowest ever total for Linford. No coal tits were ringed in 2019, and despite several targetted attempts, we once again failed to ring any cuckoos although several individuals were present on site. A single siskin and no redpolls were ringed in 2019 again, partly due to mild weather and reduced ringing opportunities.

The completion of the Sand Martin bank in early spring was a significant achievement. No sand martins nested there in 2019 which was perhaps to be expected, (just a single pair nested in the old bank), however several harvest mice did find it to their liking! Now that the structure has had a year to 'naturalise', we can hopefully look forward to a successful breeding season in 2020. 3 new potter traps were deployed towards the end of the year which produced 2 new water rails (and a somewhat unexpected robin!) Several new nest boxes for tawny owl, little owl and kestel were deployed at Linford and several other locations around MK. Although no breeding was recorded in 2019, a barn owl was seen to be roosting in one of the kestrel boxes.

We had several controls/recoveries as follows:-
A reed warbler controlled at Linford was originally ringed as a juvenile in 2017 at Marsworth Reservoir by our colleagues at Tring Ringing Group.
A chiffchaff ringed at Linford as a juvenile in September 2018 was retrapped 24 days later in East Sussex (not reported until Jan 2019).
A great tit ringed at Linford in September 2018 was recovered locally on 1st Jan 2019.
A juvenile reed warbler ringed at Linford in July 2017 was retrapped in Portugal in August 2018 (not reported until Jan 2019).
A cettis warbler ringed as a juvenile at Linford in November 2018 was retrapped in Ingrebourne Valley, Essex in October 2019.

Species
New
Retrap
Total
Barn Owl
1

1
Blackbird
12
6
18
Blackcap
138
12
150
Blue Tit
179
68
247
Bullfinch
4
6
10
Carrion Crow
1

1
Cetti's Warbler
8
8
16
Chaffinch
9
1
10
Chiffchaff
129
16
145
Common Tern
1

1
Dunnock
30
23
53
Fieldfare
2

2
Garden Warbler
20
6
26
Goldcrest
22
2
24
Goldfinch
32

32
Grasshopper Warbler
1

1
Great Spotted Woodpecker
2
12
14
Great Tit
77
72
149
Green Woodpecker
2

2
Greenfinch
26
3
29
Jay
1

1
Kestrel
2

2
Kingfisher
7
6
13
Lesser Whitethroat
2

2
Long-tailed Tit
68
23
91
Meadow Pipit
1

1
Mistle Thrush
1

1
Moorhen
1

1
Redwing
28

28
Reed Bunting
28
9
37
Reed Warbler
79
23
102
Robin
31
13
44
Sedge Warbler
25
4
29
Siskin
1

1
Snipe
1

1
Song Thrush
7
6
13
Sparrowhawk
2

2
Starling
6

6
Tawny Owl
1

1
Treecreeper
6
5
11
Water Rail
2
1
3
Whitethroat
21
6
27
Willow Warbler
26

26
Wren
41
14
55
Grand Total
1084
345
1429

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