Saturday 31 December 2022

Redwings to Europe and a winter Lesser Whitethroat

Limited ringing this December with poor weather and Avian flu considerations, but some interesting recoveries....

Subsequent encounters of our Redwings are generally from the same source as the more often discussed Woodcock, a result of  shooting.

Redwing RZ59470 ringed Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 20/11/2021

Shot  Antas, Almeria, Spain 03/12/2022 378 days 1664 km

We have had four Redwing recoveries now.... 1 shot in Italy, 1 shot in France, 1 hit a window in Devon

Details of some other controls and recoveries received recently.....

Storm Petrel   2720373

Ringed Mwnt, Ceredigion 12/07/2022

Re-encountered  Bardsey Island, Gwynedd 21/07/2022 9 days 72km N

Chiffchaff     NCC332

Ringed Cors Caron, Ceredigion 03/09/2022

Re-encountered Titchfield Haven, Hants   11/10/2022 38 days 245km SE Titchfield Haven RG

Lesser Redpoll  ACT6521

Ringed  Ruspidge, Forest of Dean, Gloucs 14/10/2021

Re-encountered  Ty Rhyg plantation, Pembs 01/10/2022 413 days 160km W

Lesser Redpoll   AJN6206

Ringed  Blaenduad, Carms 12/10/2020

Re-encountered   Hut Wood, Hants   29/10/2022 777 days 233km ESE

On the 29th December a Lesser Whitethroat was watched feeding on sunflower hearts in Wendy's Llechryd garden.

Features and biometrics suggest that it is likely of the Siberian blythi race

More on this bird in a following blog..

In case you missed the last two blogs they are well worth a read
Andy wrote a detailed blog about his work looking at site faithfulness of garden Starlings

Alison wrote about her fourth visit to Gibraltar ringing at the Straits of Gibraltar Bird Observatory. Over 3,000 birds were caught and processed during her time there, almost 70% of those were Blackcaps.

Blue Rock Thrush

The Teifi Ringing Group AGM will be held at The Grosvenor, in Cardigan on Thurs 26th Jan at 7pm. Meet earlier to say hello and catch up with other ringers you don't regularly meet..

(Wendy J and Rich D)

Sunday 18 December 2022

Starlings - tricky blighters to re-catch?

Since moving to Carmarthenshire in late 2017 and through until the end of March 2022, 1814 Starlings have been ringed in our garden just south of Llandysul. Birds have been processed between the months of October to March each winter with the highest winter period total being 569. Very few birds are seen in the area (home +5km radius) during the summer months but small numbers are known to successfully rear young most years although these local breeders and offspring seldom visit the garden in the months from April to September. The main purpose behind ‘a push’ on ringing the Starlings was to try to establish to what degree birds were returning each winter given their virtual absence during the breeding season. Mist netting produced many of the initial bird captures but with the tendency of Starlings to alarm call during extraction, this method of catching was not considered to be ideal if reasonable numbers were to be ringed. A manually operated drop trap was put into service and was very productive but this method is time absorbing and new birds cannot easily be caught while a catch is being processed. Walk-in traps have also been used with some success and Potter traps have also been quite productive.  

Since 2017, five birds with rings fitted elsewhere have been processed in the garden: 2 from Lithuania, 1 from Germany, 1 from Belgium and 1 from Kent, UK. Three birds ringed in the garden have been reported from elsewhere: 1 found dead in Ceredigion during the same winter period, 1 found freshly deceased in Carmarthenshire during the subsequent winter period, and one intentionally taken by a ringer in Holland 2 years after ringing. These records suggest an East/West seasonal movement of an unknown proportion of the birds encountered but there is little evidence to suggest anything further.

The number of birds re-trapped in the garden has, in my opinion, been low: 12 individuals (0.66%) have been subsequently encountered within the same winter period and an additional 6 birds (0.33%) have been subsequently encountered in winter periods that have followed original ringing dates (5 re-trapped, 1 ring read). These occurrences could make one think that there is simply a low rate of return of individual birds.

Over a period of seven consecutive days of settled weather in December 2022, I conducted a small trial in the hope that I may be able to understand a little more about the Starlings re-visiting our garden.

Day 1, 11/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LR08093 sighted, ringed 25/11/2021

LC93396 sighted, ringed 12/12/2017

Day 2, 12/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LR08037 sighted, ringed 18/11/2021

LL72965 sighted, ringed 03/12/2018

LR08315 sighted, ringed 02/11/2022

Day 3, 13/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LL86687 sighted, ringed 23/11/2020

LL86718 sighted, ringed 30/12/2020

LL86621 sighted, ringed 26/10/2020

LR08318 sighted, ringed 02/11/2022

Day 4, 14/12/2022 - ringing using a single 3 bay potter trap

21 new starlings ringed, 0 re-traps

Day 5, 15/12/2022 - ringing using a single 3 bay potter trap

7 new starlings ringed, 0 re-traps

Day 6, 16/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LR08037 sighted, already re-sighted on Day 2

LL86971 sighted, ringed 15/11/2021

LR08093 sighted, already re-sighted on Day 1

LL86526 sighted, ringed 02/03/2020

LL86961 sighted, ringed 07/11/2021

LR08365 sighted, ringed 15/12/2022

LR08351 sighted, ringed 14/12/2022

LR08340 sighted, ringed 14/12/2022

Day 7, 17/12/2022 – ringing using a three-port entrance walk-in trap

5 new starlings ringed, 2 re-trapped

LR08350, ringed 14/12/2022

LR08351, ringed 14/12/2022





One of the many partial ring reads!? Half a dozen shots taken as the birds move around often allow the ring to rotate slightly and these can be viewed together for a full ring combination. Many birds just move about too quickly and simply fly off. The general wear on the ring indicates that it hasn’t been fitted recently.



The ringing activity during this brief study brought the total number of birds ringed during the current winter period to 51.

During the small trial, fifteen individuals have been identified from metal rings of which five have been ringed in this winter period with three being re-sighted within two days of ringing. No ringed birds entered far enough into the Potter trap to trigger the door release mechanism whereas two recently ringed birds (initially caught in the Potter trap) entered the Walk-in ‘maze’ trap.

In just four days of observation (each session lasting 2-3 hours), birds have been re-sighted from each of the preceding winter periods of ringing and the 10 ring reads far outweighs the number of physical re-traps (five) that have been achieved over the entire four winter periods.

Photographing metal rings isn’t the easiest thing to do. Starlings often feed near each other with frequent movements among individuals and partial ring reads regularly occur. I am in no doubt that the number of individuals seen over the four days was greater than the number of rings read. At least one individual was carrying a continental ring.

The result of this work doesn’t help me to understand where any of these birds spend the breeding season but it does prove that a higher proportion of birds revisit our garden as part of their winter survival strategy than standard recapturing methods alone have indicated.

Although I believe Potter traps and other ground-based traps are quite successful for the ringing of new birds, I am left with little doubt that they are not an effective way of retrieving data which is of course the purpose of any mark-recapture project.

A methodology that considers more than just a single themed approach to catching is likely to be rewarded with a greater quantity of data for this intelligent and adaptable species.