They are still out there!
Doing the RSPB Garden Birdwatch this morning and I noticed one of the many House Sparrows had a colour ring (we regularly get them on Sandown Road). On reading it I nearly dropped my binoculars, at first I thought it was ‘BAZ’. This was the male who was the most frequently seen at the Observatory but has not been seen for two years now. I was able to double check and it was actually B4Z. He was ringed in 2017 and resighted once on King’s Avenue – so still very interesting and possibly our oldest known living ringed House Sparrow.
A Robin caught in the Obs Crow Trap had the honour of being our first bird ringed this year. Meanwhile news came in of the Knepp-ringed White Stork which was seen on Worth marshes on 3rd August. It turns out that ‘GB46’ was in Hampshire on the 2nd and then subsequently seen in Norfolk on the 4th. That’s quite some distance!
More and more of our Goldfinches remain in the UK over the winter instead of heading south. Therefore it is interesting to get two birds heading in the traditional direction long before this unpleasant, cold, spell arrived. The first was a juvenile ringed here on August 21st 2020 and caught by a ringer 113km SSE at Bellekindt, France 107 days later. The second was also a young bird, ringed here on October 17th 2020 and caught by a ringer 298km SSE at Brurag, France.
There is still no ringing underway however of interest was a drake Pochard with a nasal saddle on New Downs, not something we see very often here. It looks to be from a French project. The coordinator has been contacted and hopefully we will hear back about it soon.
No ringing possible but further news on the Blackcap. It was actually caught on North Ronaldsay twice before the previous dates on the 14th and 16th of October.
A couple of other recoveries both involve our birds living for at least 5 years. The first is a Siskin ringed by us on October 24th 2016 and controlled at West Horsley, Sussex on the 9th of this month. The second is a Starling ringed here on October 27th 2015 and caught at the regular site in Deal, nearby, on January 2nd this year.
Whilst most of the team are stuck away from the Observatory our Warden team are hoping to keep going by participating in the BTO Winter Bird Project.
Even just the maintenance of the feeders is important for the birds, particularly in this cold spell.
Nearly every year ringing turns up some more interesting movements, often relating to common species we might think we know all about. The Blue Tit from Lithuania and the Robin from far-eastern Russia being two recent examples. 2020 has also sprung a surprise.
A Blackcap ringed by us as a 3F on September 14th 2018 and caught by a ringer on October 12th 2020 at Marais-Moison-Buisson, France ( 855km SSW) is a typical direction of movement but a nice bit of longevity.
What was the 3F Blackcap we ringed on September 22nd 2020 but caught by North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory on October 26th (and 27th) 2020 doing? This is 932 km NNW. It was caught on a very busy morning at Sandwich when more than 130 Blackcaps and 90 Chiffchaffs were ringed. I note that its weight on North Ronaldsay was only 15.7g. Although we were too busy to take biometrics that morning the average weight around then was around 18g.