Saturday, 13 March 2021

Massive Tourist Visits LLNR - But Did You See It?

 

Following a tip off from a well informed member of the Friends Group (thanks Mark) I have done a little research on the interweb and have found the following post on the Roy Dennis Foundation Twitter Feed https://twitter.com/RoyDennisWF, which confirms  that a White-tailed Eagle did indeed roost at LLNR on the 2nd March 2021.

"Apart one brief return flight south to Northamptonshire (as described above), G318 remained in Lincolnshire until 27th February when it made a purposeful move to the south, passing to the east of Boston at 13:20 and then across the north side of Peterborough at 15:20. It eventually settled in woodland on the Cambridgeshire-Northants border having flown 107 km (67 miles) from the Lincolnshire Wolds. G318 continued to head slowly south over subsequent days, and spent a night at Linford Lakes on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, on 2nd March."

I am advised that it spent the night on Heron Island - which must have put the wind up a few Herons and Egrets and any wildfowl on and around the lake.

The bird which is one of those introduced on to the Isle of Wight is fitted with a GPS tracker and so it's movements and location can be very accurately monitored.

Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of the actual bird so I have posted below one of my own pictures of a WTE taken in Scotland a couple of years ago. I have been fortunate enough to see quite a few of these birds, at pretty close range, on my regular visits to Mull over the last 15 years and can confirm they are truly massive.


Tony Bedford

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

End of Year Ringing Report by Kenny Cramer

Hi all,


I think we've probably all read and said everything there is to say about 2020 and there are no superlatives or hyperboles left that haven't been applied to this most unusual of years. Despite the extraordinary circumstances, the ringing news is not all bad, in fact there have been quite some highlights which I have attempted to summarise below.


In 2020 we ringed on 38 different days, beating the previous record of 27 visits in 2018 by quite a margin. This was despite the fact that we only managed to squeeze in one session in the first 4 months of the year due to a combination of illness, my expedition to The Gambia and the first coronavirus lockdown. Ringing resumed in earnest from mid-May, setting a new monthly record of 7 visits in June 2020 compared to the previous record of 4 visits in February 2018. This resulted in 1755 captures of 50 species, 1453 of which were newly ringed, yet another new record. We also set a new record for most captures in a day on 10th September with 165 birds handled.


At the species level, we had 5 new entries on our Linford ringing list in 2020 consisting of house sparrow (yes really!), spotted flycatcher, yellow wagtail, skylark and of course, who could forget the glorious long-eared owl last November. This brings us to a total of 61 species ringed at Linford since 2014. This is without any special effort being put into targetting waterfowl on site, something which I hope to address in future years.


When we were able to properly restart our ringing efforts, May - July was mainly concerned with cuckoos, a species we had not encountered since 2017 despite plenty of birds being present and much effort being put into catching them. In 2020 however, we had quite a reversal of fortunes and managed to ring 11 individuals around the reserve with only 1 retrap.


Other individual species that had record years included Redwing with 193 ringed in 2020, smashing the previous record of 104 in 2018. Warblers were also generally on the increase with Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler all having record years. This was perhaps helped by the dense vegetation on the bund where we were able to take advantage of some particularly productive net rides before being flooded off at the end of September. Throughout Summer and Autumn, the bund also produced record numbers of Reed Bunting (55 in 2020 vs 28 in 2019), Meadow Pipit (39 in 2020 vs 12 in 2018) and Lesser Redpoll (24 in 2020 vs 5 in 2015). 2 newly ringed snipe were another Autumn bonus with just one previous record, although waders such as jack snipe, lapwing, common and green sandpipers eluded the nets.


After heavy rain and flooding and with the bund now under several feet of water and out of action, we retreated to the bug bank and boundary walk from early October and turned our attention to winter thrushes. As mentioned previously, redwings had a bumper year, but it was also a record year for blackbirds with 42 newly ringed compared to the previous record of 35 in 2016, and song thrush with 21 birds newly ringed compared to 13 in 2017. Mistle thrush and Fieldfare are much harder to catch but we managed 4 fieldfare compared to 8 in 2018, and 2 Mistle Thrushes with 1 in 2019 being the only previous record. Siskins usually winter in good numbers at Linford thanks to the many alders which they like to feed on. Catches can be variable but we managed a respectable 10 compared to the record of 16 set in 2015.


As we moved from Autumn into Winter, we turned our attention to owls resulting in 2 new Tawny Owls plus a recaptured adult from 2017, a new Barn Owl (interestingly, we have yet to encounter any of the birds ringed by Paddy Jackson in the two onsite nest boxes) and the previously mentioned Long-eared Owl.


Other notable captures in 2020 included 5 new Sand Martins (our first since 2017), 3 new Moorhen, 2 new water rails, 2 new Green Woodpeckers, 2 new Sparrowhawks, our first Marsh Tit since 2014, and our second ever Grasshopper Warbler. 2 new Siberian Chiffchaffs were perhaps the rarest encounters yet at Linford.


On the negative side, species that seem to be in decline include Bullfinch (just 2 ringed in 2020 vs 14 in 2015), Chaffinch (4 ringed vs 17 in 2017), Dunnock (21 ringed vs 40 in 2017), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 ringed vs 7 in 2014), Greenfinch (3 ringed vs 40 in 2018), and Treecreeper (4 ringed vs 14 in 2017). We failed to attract any sand martins to the "Sand Castle" for a second year, here's hoping that it will be third time lucky!


Recoveries included a chiffchaff ringed at Linford in August 2019 which moved 739 km down to the west coast of France in 55 days. (This was not reported until 2020.)

A starling ringed in May 2019 was recovered in April 2020, sadly having been found dead within 3km of Linford.

A reed warbler ringed in August 2020 was re-caught in Icklesham, East Sussex having moved 164km in 11 days.



Controls included a reed warbler originally ringed as an adult at Marston Vale Millenium Country Park, Beds in April 2017 which we recaptured in May 2020 making it at least 4 years old.

A cetti's warbler ringed as a juvenile in July 2019 at Brandon Marsh, Warwickshire was recaptured in July 2020.

A garden warbler ringed as a juvenile in September 2018 in Bolea, Spain was recaptured in August 2020 after 707 days and a movement of 1091km.

Two blackcaps ringed at Hillesden, Bucks as juveniles seemed to go the wrong way, moving 20km north east in around 40 days, and were recaptured within a couple of weeks of each other.

A goldcrest ringed as a juvenile in October 2019 at Beachy Head, East Sussex was recaptured at Linford almost exactly one year later, presumably heading south to cross the channel for a second time.

A reed warber ringed as a juvenile in September 2020 at Wilstone Reservoir, Bucks was recaptured 22 days later, having apparently gone the wrong way and moving 32km north!

A lesser redpoll ringed as a juvenile in October 2020 at Marston Sewage Works, Lincs was recaptured 4 days later having travelled 99km south.

A siskin ringed as a juvenile in September 2020 in Telemark, Norway was recaptured 71 days later having travelled 1025km south west.

Thanks go to all the helpers who contributed by scribing, carrying equipment, filling feeders, clearing net rides or simply providing good banter, your help is vitally important to our work and just as important (if not more so) than additional pairs of ringing pliers, so a massive thank you to Tony for all his bad jokes and amazing, high speed release photos, Martin and Margaret R for keeping the feeders full and putting up with all of our early morning clatterings, Amy J for walking all the way back from the far hide to scribe a tit flock and showing great trainee potential, Jessica and Aimee for their excellent net setting skills (sorry about the snake!), Jim for sharing his pics - look forward to seeing you again once lockdown has unlocked.


To Sarah the bramble slayer - I'll always remember our scrub bashing sessions on the bund with fondness, it won't be the same without you.


Extra special thanks goes to Keith for tirelessly tagging along and showing amazing dedication and commitment by weathering the early mornings, long set-ups, double sessions, sweltering heat, bitter cold, multiple tiers of lockdown, and learning how to tame the beast... and all of this with a dodgy ankle! 


I also have to thank Martin K and everyone at the Park's Trust for allowing me the great privilege of ringing at the best wildlife site in Milton Keynes. I look forward to many more years of partnership and friendship.


Last but not least, I have to thank Bob, our new and beloved Linford mascot, who brought us great joy and much entertainment between net rounds over the past few months. May your mealworms be ever fat and juicy (and watch out for that sparrowhawk!)


Cheers,


Kenny





Tuesday, 4 August 2020

About Terns


The Common Terns seem to have had a successful breeding year at LLNR and a number of juvenile birds can be seen begging food from the adults.

I recently took this picture which suggests that both parent birds had caught fish and appeared to be queuing up Heathrow style to feed junior.





In actual fact the first adult Tern offered the fish to the youngster then veered off to feed another, leaving the second adult to feed the confused juvenile. I can only assume a case of mistaken identity.



Above, the young Tern finally gets a feed.

Article by Tony Bedford
Photos copyright Tony Bedford.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Welcome Back







The first Marsh Tit to be recorded on the site in the last 5 years was ringed by Kenny Cramer and his team last Sunday. Lets keep our fingers crossed that this is the start of a return of this scarce species.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Clock This


Those of you who have been following the ringing stats for LLNR for a while will know that in 2017, an impressive 5 cuckoos were ringed at LLNR which accounted for around 10% of all the fully grown cuckoos ringed in the UK that year. 

Since then, despite Kenny's best efforts, we have spectacularly failed to catch another one... until now...A handsome juvenile male stayed in the net long enough to be extracted and processed, ending the long running streak of bad luck. 

At least 3 individuals were present (probably more) and so the cuckoo quest continues...





Monday, 9 March 2020

Best Laid Plans

Following a not too successful inaugural year for the new Sand Martin Nest Bank - we did get some harvest mice in a few nest chambers - a group of FoLLNR volunteers have just carried out some improvements for the 2020 season. 

No we haven't started a "Paragliding section" - waterproof membrane being moved into location

A waterproof membrane has been fitted across the roof and to create a more natural finish turf has been laid on top to help the "Sandbank" blend into the surroundings.


Turfing the "Sandbank"

Some of he reeds in front of the nest bank have also been trimmed to ease access by our feathered friends. A little more trimming may take place when water levels have dropped although we intend to leave some reeds to keep things as natural as possible.


And whilst all the work was going on we had an overhead observer keeping an eye on proceedings

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