Monday, 28 January 2019

A few more Recoveries

We've received a couple more recoveries from the BTO.

The first was another of our Storm Petrels heading off to the Treshnish Isles on the west coast of Scotland - our seventh caught here and the sixth on Lunga Island specifically.
We caught the bird at Rinnagree Point on the 25th of July 2017 and it was recovered on Lunga, 146km away, on the 28th of June 2018.

Storm Petrel Recovery


The next one wasn't particularly distant but interesting all the same. It is my first personal Lesser Redpoll recovery which was originally ringed on the 16th of April 2015 at Portstewart Strand. It was found dead just 7km away in Coleraine (just down the road from my house) but the 1363 days between ringing is pretty impressive. The bird was born in 2014 so made it into its 5th calendar year - the longevity record for Lesser Redpoll is 6 years old, most living just 2 years.

There is an old blog post from the same date this bird was ringed - see the link


Lesser Redpoll

We have been out doing a little bit of ringing but the weather has finally turned and the arctic winds have brought us a lot of cold wet weather including the first snows of the winter. It's more of the same this week but there is a potential weather window open this coming weekend. I'll update on these recent activities when I have a bit more time.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Other Ringing and Recoveries

I updated on our ringing activities since early summer at both Portstewart Strand and Lough Neagh in previous posts but we weren't just limited to those sites. Through this time we continued our summer Storm Petrel ringing, seven/eight trips to Copeland Bird Observatory between us and a few other bits a pieces.

There was another new species for the group in Grey Heron caught by Ken and James on the 9th of June. Usually when river ringing we are fearful of these massive brutes blundering into the nets and ripping them to shreds but on this occasion it stuck with out any damage to the bird or net and was extracted quickly. Handling Grey Herons is a two man job so no pictures were taken.

One of the nicest birds in this time was this stunner of a Long-eared Owl caught at the University campus in Coleraine by John and Ken on the 4th of July.
Long-eared Owl

We had our first Long-eared Owl recovery but in unfortunate circumstances. One of the chicks ringed at the University campus back in 2011 (pictured below) was hit by a car on the 13th of June this year around 9.5 miles away near the town of Ballymoney. Although sad circumstances, it is interesting to see the dispersals of the birds.

The Storm Petrel season was a poor one yet again and it really is on a downward trend and so to is effort because of it. This year it was just the three visits with catches of 5, 16 & a control and 17 & a Redshank.


As well as our control, we had two birds recovered making it a hat-rick of bird observatories.

The controlled Storm Petrel was ringed at North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory, Orkney, Scotland on the 2nd of August 2018 and controlled by us 18 days later at Rinnagree Point at a distance of 529km.
North Ron is one of those enviable observatories that see and catch what we would deem rare by the bucket load - check their blog out here - http://northronbirdobs.blogspot.com/

A Storm Petrel ringed by us Rinnagree Point on the 17th July 2017 was caught at Skokholm Bird Observatory, Pembrokeshire, Wales on the 11th August 2018.  398 km distance and 390 days.
Skokholm, like North Ron, makes us very jealous and we'd love just a fraction of their birds! Visit their blog  - https://skokholm.blogspot.com/

The final bird was one of our 2016 birds ringed on the 1st of August which was retrapped at the Calf of Man Bird Observatory on the 9th of June this year. We have never caught a bird before the 1st of July so perhaps these guys have picked up breeder (which arrive earlier) on route to its breeding site. I'm not sure if they breed on the Calf again yet after the recent eradication of rats. 174km distance and 677 days.
You can keep up to date with these guys on Facebook - 
https://www.facebook.com/calfofmanbirdobservatory/

Storm Petrel Movements

I haven't updated the Storm Petrel control maps or info in a while but you can click on the tabs above to check out all the other movements.



This control isn't particularly impressive but considering I just caught my first Greenfinch retrap a few weeks ago, it is nice to see where they go. The said bird was ringed at Castlerock on the 7th of Jan 2018 and found dead by a member of the public 4km away in Articlave on the 15th of May 2018, dead within a week. It was presumably breeding along the local hedgerows which are quite good and hold a population of Yellowhammers, the only decent one I'm aware of in the wider area.

Back in March I updated about the ringing in Kens garden and the good numbers of Siskins and a brilliant control all the way from Cape Clear Bird Observatory 454 km at the very south of Ireland. (http://causewaycoastrg.blogspot.com/2018/03/siskins-and-garden-ringing.html) The Siskins continued to visit and 78 new birds were captured. One of these birds itself was then controlled elsewhere making its way to Salsburgh, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was originally ringed on the 13th of March and recaptured on the 6th of May - 54 days apart, 193km away. This is the second of our Siskins that has been controlled at this same site following one from my parents garden in the Loughan a few years back.

Siskin to North Lanarkshire 


I've finished with a picture of the Portstewart Strand Cuckoo just because its a stonker bird!

Friday, 4 January 2019

Late December 2018

Following on from the work done on the visit on the 16th (just below in this post) we were able to set up the two new 18 metre net rides along with the usual three. The new nets worked with the one in the top patch of scrub catching a Fieldfare, Starling, 2 Blackbirds and best of all a Mistle Thrush. Mistle Thrushes are very difficult to catch and we've only caught 2 fledged birds in the past 5/6 years.

John and I were joined by Ken and his trainee James, who was able to add three new species which is always a good day. One of the three Fieldfares caught was released unringed but it happens!
We are really noticing the drop off in Chaffinch numbers, or should I say, the number that we are catching - perhaps the ones present are all ringed!

Mistle Thrush

Castlerock Golf Club - Saturday 24th December 2018
                      New      Retrap

Blackbird        3            
Bullfinch         1             1             
Fieldfare          2
Goldfinch         1
Greenfinch      6
Mistle Thrush  1
Robin                             3

Song Thrush   1
Starling           1
Wren               1

Total              17              4                


Starling

16th December 2018

This morning the focus was more so on preparing the new net rides and together we have cut two new 18 metre net rides and a 6m dog leg off once of these. We are eyeing up another 12m ride also but we will see how these new ones work and see if we can increase the catch of the Fieldfare!

We had the three usual nets open and caught a few birds and again another single Fieldfare, caught in the same net. I did have another in the nets but it flipped out on approach. We will probably use 19x19mm 4 shelf nets in these new rides which are better for catching larger birds as the finer mesh 15x15mm 5 shelf nets have cost us at least 3 Fieldfares so far this season (but do catch the smaller passerines better).

Fieldfare

Castlerock Golf Club - Saturday 16th December 2018
                      New      Retrap
Blue Tit           3             1
Bullfinch         3             3             
Fieldfare          1
Greenfinch                    1

Linnet             1
Robin              1

Song Thrush   1
Wren               1

Total              11              5                


A Merlin made an appearance mid morning and made a kill over the river which appeared to be a Fieldfare. The bird was certainly very heavy as the bird made a sharpish landing on the rocks before slipping into the Marram Grass.

The local Otter family also gave us a bit of a show with three feeding right along the rock armour and it looks as though they had been running about the shoreline before I arrived.


One of three Otters present


Otter tracks



Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Colour Ringed Gulls and Waders

Throughout the season when we are out and about we pick up a few colour ringed birds, some of which are familiar to us and most new birds. There are plenty more metal ringed birds, particularly terns, which slip through without being identified.

I'm always particularly keen on colour-ringed birds in the Bann Estuary and the first of these was just so - a Sanderling. G4YWBG was ringed in south-west Iceland near Sandgerði on the 22nd of May 2016, presumably on route north to its breeding grounds. The colour rings were resighted by Wilbert McIlmoyle on the 23rd of this month and two days later by Gary Platt around the Barmouth at a minimum distance of 824 miles. These Sanderling generally originate from Greenland, possibly from the Canadian High Arctic. 

 Movement of Sanderling G4YWBG
Sanderling G4YWBG (image by Wilbert McIlmoyle)

The next Sanderling G1RRYW was ringed on the 10th May 2011in south-west at Sandgerði Iceland where it was seen a year later. Two years later it appeared in north-east Iceland near Grjotnes. In May 2017 it was sighted in South Uist, Scotland before appearing in the Bann Estuary the following winter. In 2018 it has been sighted a few times around the Bann Estuary and Magilligan Point. 





The final Sanderling, G4BBYY was ringed on the 24th of May 2016 SW Iceland, very close to the first bird and only two days apart. It's most recent sighting was by me on the 10th of October 2018 at Ramore Head, Portrush.  It was recorded a few times around Portush and Portballintrae both this winter and last winter before being recorded. It was seen again in Iceland in May 2018 and sighted on North Uist Scotland on the 4th of August on its way south. 

The location of the Sanderling on Ramore Head, Portrush - the best spot on the north coast for Purple Sandpipers also!

If you find any colour-ringed Sanderlings please check out - https://animaltrack.org/

Oystercatcher OW-Gr(PY) has returned to the Bann Estuary after spending a few weeks there between the 23rd September and 5th of October last year. The bird was originally ringed as a chick on 23rd June 2017, also near Sandgerði in SW Iceland. I picked the bird up again from 14th of September this year and seen it on a few more occasions in the following weeks. I received an email from Gary Platt today saying that he had sighted the bird 4 days ago in the same spot.


Oystercatcher OW-Gr(PY)


One of the most interesting sightings was of a German ringed Mediterranean Gull which was sighted first by Steve and then by John 2 days later but surprisingly some 35 miles apart. Steve sighted the bird at Lough Shore Park in Antrim on the shore of Lough Neagh on the 30th of July before it upped sticks and moved up to Coleraine along the Lower Bann River (a c43 mile journey by river).

The bird was ringed as a chick at Rehbach Gravel Pit, Leipzig, Germany (c95 miles SSW of Berlin) on the 25th of June 2018, roughly 835 miles from Coleraine and only 54 days after ringing.

                  
Along the Lower Bann River in Coleraine (and McDonalds) has been quite productive for colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls and it has yet again produced another two birds. The first was another Icelandic bird from Brekka, Álftanes, Kjósarsýsla - ringed as a chick on the 16th June 2017.
This one was a metal ring read by John on the 8th of March. 


The second Black-headed Gull was a Norweigan bird who is used to spending winters in sunnier climes in Spain. It was ringed as a chick in Boganesholmane, Stavanger, Norway on the 19th of June 2015, resighted close to home in both 2017 and 2018. It spent the winters of 2016 and 2017 in Santander, Spain and was likely on route when sighted by John in Coleraine.
Life history below - 

Date Place Coordinates Observers Days/km/°
19.06 2015 Boganesholmane, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway
06.07 2015 Grudavatnet, Klepp, Rogaland, Norway
25.01 2016 Limpias, Santander, Spain
21.05 2017  Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
12.06 2017 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
12.06 2017 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
27.06 2017 Holme SV Jåttåholmen, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway
05.07 2017 Holme SV for Jåttåholmen, Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway
20.01 2018 Limpias, Cantabria, Santander, Spain
07.06 2018 Hanaslippen, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
10.06 2018 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
18.06 2018 Sandnes Brygge, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
09.07 2018 Vågen vgs, Sandnes, Rogaland, Norway
09.08 2018 Strand Road (Jetty), Coleraine, Londonderry, Great Britain




Gary Platt and Adam McClure have been keeping us updated with our Black-headed Gulls from Inch Island in Donegal. So far, five of the 2016 recruits have been re-encountered, four within Northern Ireland. The first lot in this year were metal ringed only, with a number of birds being colour ringed on the second visit. To keep up to date with colour ring reading across Northern Ireland, particularly gulls - check out Gary Platt's blog here - http://birdingatantrimmarina.blogspot.com/


Black-headed Gull Orange 2ATJ was sighted by Gary himself on the Kinnegar Shore, Belfast Lough on the 11th of March 2018. It was ringed on the 31st of May 2016 and a colour ring added 8 days later.

Black-headed Gull Orange 2BRP made it over to Bracknell Forest near Reading, England but was found in unfortunate circumstances - fresh dead in a horse water trough on the 14th of July this year. It was ringed 25 months before. Given the time of year, it was possibly going to breed here.

EZ61022 appeared at McDonalds, Coleraine on the 17th & 31st of October 2016 having been ringed on the 31st May 2016.


Black-headed Gull (Gary Platt)

Orange 2AXT was sighted at Millquarter Bay, Co. Down (missing the date), ringed on the 8th May 2016,






Black-headed Gull (Gary Platt)
 




The last Black-headed Gull was a partial metal ring read of EZ610-- at Portrush. The digits gathered are sufficient to say that it was ringed on the 31st May 2016 at Inch.




The final bird was one of our metal ringed Curlews that was resighted by one of the local photographers, Mervyn Campbell, just in front of the Bann Estuary bird hide. The bird was ringed on the 25th of August last year in Grangemore 1.1km away and was photographed on the 9th and 24th of August. We don't have any local breeding Curlew so who knows where this bird was over the breeding season.

Curlew (image by Mervyn Campbell)

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Castlerock Golf Club - Early December

The numbers of Fieldfare are starting to build at Castlerock, from 6 on the last visit, up to c50 on the 1st of December and upwards of 70 the following week. As our main target species at the site, our track record of catching them here isn't the best, with just a few each year when we have had up to 600 spending weeks feeding here. As mentioned in the last Castlerock post, we do plan to cut some new net rides which cover some of the higher bushes away from the hollow but progress has been slow as we have been distracted by open nets and catching a few birds on a couple of visits.

The first of these visits was on the Saturday 1st of December where I just about avoided the showers inland and opened three nets, with John appearing mid-morning. We acquired some new Fieldfare recorded calls from an online forum and put them to work but unfortunately they didn't attract anything... but we did get one Fieldfare from the net with no call playing.

Fieldfare

The catch was a pretty small one but we did spend a bit of time cutting these identified new rides with about 10 metres cut through the dense brambles and scrub plus we tidied up another old net ride.
As always, Greenfinches are a pleasure to catch and this site remains really the only site where we see Greenfinch now, let alone catch them. 

Castlerock Golf Club - Saturday 1st December 2018
                      New      
Blue Tit           1
Bullfinch         2              
Chaffinch        4
Dunnock         1
Fieldfare          1
Greenfinch      5
Robin              1

Total              15           


Greenfinch



On Sunday the 9th it was solo session for myself with the aim of continuing the progress on these new net rides. The weather wasn't too bad so I set two 18m and one 12m nets in the old rides which seemed to be sheltered from the NW wind that was whipping into the river.
The birds trickled through at 2 or 3 a net round so kept me distracted and I only managed to cut another six metres of new ride.

Blackcap

We have caught a few wintering Blackcaps at Castlerock over recent winters so I stuck on Blackcap song and managed to attract this lady. They are very inconspicuous amongst the dense scrub and would go unnoticed without the nets. 
The retrappped Bullfinch was a 2015 bird and the Blackbirds were both from the winter of 2016/17. 

Castlerock Golf Club - Sunday 9th December 2018
                      New        Retrap
Blackbird                          2
Blackcap         1
Blue Tit           1
Bullfinch         2                1
Chaffinch        6
Greenfinch      5
Robin               1
Song Thrush   1

Total                17             3       


I've been still working away at the patch birding for the Patch Work Challenge and on Sunday I hit the 130 species mark once again and matched my total for 2017 with a nice Merlin zipping by and landing on a bush before being flushed by the local hoodie mob (Hooded Crows). I've eased my foot off the pedal in the past 5/6 weeks with very little on offer but I'm still waiting on Gadwall, Jack Snipe and Moorhen so there are likely options available to beat last year. I have tried three full spins of the local Snipe spots this autumn finding 70+ Common Snipe but still no Jacks - I missed Jack Snipe last winter entirely when normally I'd expect to see 5/6 some days. 


Dramatic sunrise 


Sunday, 2 December 2018

New French Sedge Warbler

A bit of a late arrival after 15+ months but a very welcome recovery all the same. As I mentioned in a previous post, we were amazed that none of our Lough Neagh warblers were recovered on the way south in 2017 but it turns out there was at least one.
The aforementioned bird was a juvenile Sedge Warbler which we ringed on the 16th of July 2017 which was retrapped 27 days later near Genêts, in NW France at a minimum distance of 745km.
This recovery highlights how early some of our young Sedge Warblers head south and helps build the picture of the movements of these birds from Lough Neagh - hopefully plenty more to come.

Sedge Warbler - Lough Neagh to Genêts, France

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Castlerock Golf Club 24/11/2018 & Scottish Chaffinch

On Saturday morning John and I shifted out attentions to the west shore of the Bann Estuary and made our first visit to Castlerock Golf Club of the winter. As you regular readers will know, this is somewhat similar habitat to that of Portstewart Strand but much smaller in area and all the Sea Buckthorn plants are female meaning they produce millions of berries and attract some large numbers of thrushes and finches, but generally in late winter.


As we hadn't been to the site since the 7th of January at the start of the year the net rides needed to be cleared of the brambles, nettles and quite a bit of cutting back of fallen bushes and branches. We tackled the easy ride first and had the first 18 metres net up and catching within 20 minutes and had the second 12m ride up and running in another 20 minutes. The nets started to catch a few birds so our progress in the other rides was slowed and we didn't quite get finished but did get another 24m cleared with another 18m to go. The session was cut short because of a very unfortunate discovery  on the receding tide.

The location of our nets generally follow the bottom of the hollow of the main stand of Sea Buckthorn but this tends not to be the best place to intercept the thrushes which stick to the higher bushes on the slopes - we had up to 600 Fieldfare feeding amongst the scrub last winter and we only caught one! At the same time we probably had a mixed flock of up to 175 Redwing, Blackbirds & Song Thrush and again only caught three, six and seven respectively. We are eyeing up new potential net rides which might rectify this a bit but working with the steep slopes and avoiding flying golf balls isn't easy!

A net full of Chaffinches & a couple of Blue Tits


From the two nets in a couple of hours we caught 18 new birds and controlled a female Chaffinch with a BTO ring. There were only 6 Fieldfare present and again they avoided the nets.

Castlerock Golf Club 24th November 2018

                          New          Control
Blue Tit               2
Bullfinch             4
Chaffinch            8                   1
Dunnock             1
Robin                  1
Song Thrush       2

Total                 18                   1         


The new BTO system means that you receive details of controls within a few days, subject to them being uploaded by the other ringer.
This controlled Chaffinch was ringed at Drummond, Inverness on the 17th of September 2018 and controlled by us 68 days later at a minimum distance of 298km. This is our second control Chaffinch for the Bann Estuary with the last bird also coming from the Highlands of Scotland near Shielfoot (marked below) in a very similar movement. She was quite a large winged lady so possibly a Scandinavian moving through Scotland.

Chaffinch from Inverness to Castlerock








Friday, 23 November 2018

Acro Warblers on Lough Neagh 2018

After our exploratory visits to our new site on the west shore of Lough Neagh in 2017 we were full of anticipation to get back in amongst the reeds this summer.

In 2017 we made two visits to the site producing 197 birds with 30 Reed Warblers, 121 Sedge Warblers, 17 Blackcaps, 10 Willow Warbler, 1 Sparrowhawk 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Wren, 2 Blue Tit and 6 Reed Buntings (which seems rather strange after 2018).

To refresh your minds on last years visits, please follow the links below:




Reed Warbler

The total of 30 Reed Warblers was massive in an Irish and Northern Irish context given that the average catch of the species in NI between 2007-2016 was 3 birds per year and that there hadn't been more than 4 Reed Warblers caught in one year in the initial nine years before 17 in 2016. In the south they have averaged around 25 birds per year for the past 10 years. Certainly for the north, much of the change is down to effort and increased ringing around Lough Neagh once again - in 2015 there was no ringing in the area, one site in 2016, two sites in 2017 and two in 2018. In 2019 we should see this number climb further with certainly three, possibly four sites up and running, including two Constant Effort Sites with Portmore Lough being brought back into action after decades of no ringing - this site has produced over 1000 Sedge Warblers in certain years in the past and 1/2 Reed Warblers when they were much rarer back in the 1970's/1980's.




In 2018 we made three visits to the site on the 22nd of July, 11th of August and the final visit on the 25th of August producing 126 new birds (+2 controls), 182 new birds and 165 new birds respectively. Sedge Warbler numbers were pretty consistent across the three visits with 98, 97 & 84 respectively with Reed Warblers increasing across each with 10, 12 and 19. 

On the third visit there were noticeable gatherings of hirudines (and Swifts) feeding over the reedbeds and wet woodland so once the deluge of Acrocephalus (acros) warblers had subsided we had a go at tape luring some, successfully catching 15 Swallows and 3 Sand Martins with many more landing on top of the nets and poles and avoiding capture in the bright sunshine. I've never visited the Lough in the evening or at night but undoubtedly there must be some massive hirudine roosts forming all around the lough in autumn and our site seems better than most for potential habitat.
Through lack of extra hands we still haven't fully explored the potential of the backing wet woodlands but we did catch 26 Blackcap, 19 Willow Warbler and 4 Chiffchaff in short spells but a concerted effort would produce much more and perhaps a secret pair of Garden Warbler - the habitat is perfect (we may have as few as 50 breeding pairs in Ireland, generally around the Lakelands of Fermanagh, Leitrim, Roscommon and Cavan).


The combined totals of the three visits were:
Blackcap                      26
Chiffchaff                      4
Reed Bunting              83 (2)
Reed Warbler              41 [1 NW England control]
Robin                            2
Sand Martin                  3
Sedge Warbler            279 (1) [1 French control]
Swallow                        15
Willow Warbler            19
Wren                             1

Total                            473 (3) [2]


Reed Bunting

The biggest surprise of the year was the numbers of Reed Bunting around and the number caught. On the second visit an incredible 53 were caught (for not being a roost catch this is spectacular), an impressive 21 on visit three and a very decent 9 on visit one. Given that we only caught 6 in both visits combined in 2017 this is a massive change and 2019 might let us know what is normal! 


Having gone through the first autumn migration without a recovery from the 180 ringed warblers we were really quite surprised, particularly for Sedge Warblers which are readily controlled in the habitats they stopover in on migration. We were then even more surprised that we avoided any recoveries on the return journey north. 
The first visit of the season produced the goods with two controls, a very nice French ringed Sedge Warbler and a BTO ringed Reed Warbler which was even better in our minds! The Reed Warbler had been ringed at Middleton nature Reserve at Heysham Bird Observatory in Lancashire. Interestingly one of the ringers there, Pete Marsh, used to ring on our stomping grounds in the Bann Estuary back in the early 1970's and he reported that the Reed Warbler had arrived in a fall, including birds ringed elsewhere with 2 Sedge Warblers ringed in France and another in Belgium - did they all head to Ireland also?
A week after we received the details of our French control Sedge Warbler, we received news that one of our Sedge Warblers from this year had been recovered on the way south in France.

Sedge Warbler Movements (green) and Reed Warbler (light blue)

The Reed Warbler was originally ringed at Middleton Nature Reserve, Heysham on the 04th of May 2018 and controlled by us 79 days later at a distance of c151 miles.

The Sedge Warbler was originally ringed near La Rochelle on the west coast of France on its way south on the 11th of August 2017. It then spent the winter in sub-Saharan Africa before returning to Northern Ireland to breed for the first time, 345 days later, at a minimum distance of 1087 km but in reality this will be much more.

Our recovered Sedge Warbler was a juvenile ringed on the 11th of August this year and was recovered in Dourges in NE France 17 days later at a minimum distance of 790km. Normally we would expect these birds to stick to the west of France on their way to Africa but that's part of the beauty of the study of migratory birds.



Sedge Warbler

Limitations and Restrictions
As a ringing group, all of us are located 70-90 minutes away from the site, so regular visits and very early starts are difficult to enable the full monitoring the site deserves. The walk into the site is also over a mile long striding through reeds and wet grassland and not the easiest with all the equipment but the shear volume and quality of birds makes it very worth while. Getting sufficient pairs of hands in 2018 was our biggest restricting factor in regards to the number of nets we can use and also keeping the limited number open - at times the birds enter the nets faster than they can be extracted, let alone processed so the nets are closed until all birds have safely processed and released before reopening. Early morning seems to be the key time for the movement of birds with birds pouring through before tailing off before 9am, with basically no birds being caught around 10am. Normally on arrival the birds are in full flow and we've caught up to 17 birds in two joined nets in the process of erection which only takes a couple of minutes.
Cost is also a consideration when ringing such volumes of birds, the current price per bird for an A ring is 25.2p, so for the 449 ringed in 2018 equates to £113.50 + a further £5.07 in AA rings. Thankfully I have been able to source some funding sources over the past 4/5 years to pay for some of the rings, most notably to the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) who covered the cost of 1000 A rings for 2018, but having never charged our T's & C's (and no plans to do so) there is still a financial burden into the £100's each year for myself and John. A CES would help us get a real understanding for the local breeding population of the site and take away the financial burden but unfortunately we couldn't commit to the effort at the moment!

..... but after all that, we do hope to increase our studies at the site next year to increase our understanding of the breeding birds on site, the turn over of birds in 24 hours and potentially investigate the sites potential in the evening (= overnight camping!).
If I get some time over the winter (on top of everything else I take on and pile up) I may take a look at the patterns from previous recoveries of the migration routes taken by be Sedge Warblers with the UK and Ireland to and from Lough Neagh of which I think there are three main routes - via NW England (possibly more so spring?), direct line through Wales out of SE Northern Ireland and NE Ireland and some to SE Ireland before making the leap to SW Wales and SW England.


The fresh wing (lower) of a juvenile Sedge Warbler and worn wing of an adult (upper)

A big thank you to John Clarke, Steve Fyffe, David Stirling, David Galbraith, Ken Perry, James O'Neill and James McDowell who were present at one+ of the visits and to Godfrey who gives us access to the site and is always on hand to assist.