<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society Newsletter
Newsletter of the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society
News From the Ringing Group
Summer 2004
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More Twite Recoveries

Our hard work of ringing wintering Twite at Heysham is paying handsome dividends with the reports of colour ringed birds from Bornish, South Uist, Outer Hebrides and another from Oronsay an island off Colonsay Inner Hebrides.  The Outer Hebrides bird is particularly interesting as it is assumed that most of them are resident.  With sightings last year from Eigg and Staffa and 4 from Sanda off the Mull of Kintyre we have proved conclusively the origins of our wintering birds. Two of last winter's birds have been found wintering on the Duddon.  So all in all a fascinating picture and proves the advantage of colour ringing. The recoveries are even more outstanding when you realise that in the recently published Migration Atlas there were no records of Scottish birds in England!  Also, it was always thought that all the Hebridean Twite were sedentary... One theory is that changes in agriculture in the Western Islands is forcing these birds to search for food elsewhere.

Colour Ringed Greylag Ruffles a Few Feathers

A neck collared Greylag sighted by John Reddish and Mark Prestwood at Leighton on February 28th raised the thorny question of the origin of our wintering birds.  WWT have always claimed that all our wintering population were made up of feral birds.  However there was a regular flock wintering in the Carnforth Marsh/ Lune Valley area for many years before the feral population became established.  The sighting of this bird which had been ringed in a flock of Icelandic birds in Elgin lends support to many local birdwatchers that part at least of our flock is made up of Icelandic breeding birds.  This bird had been seen in several localities in Scotland and in County Louth before heading our way.  It would be worth investigating the possibility of ringing a sample of the wintering birds.

How Many Siskins Visit Your Garden?

Some idea of the numbers of Siskin visiting feeders was shown by Andrew Cadman's work in his garden at Over Kellet.  Andrew usually saw only two or three Siskin in his garden at once, but between March 2nd and April 22nd he caught 93 different birds. The highlight was on April 9th when he caught 26 Siskin.  Of these, one had been ringed in France and two elsewhere in Britain.  We await details with interest.  A Siskin caught at Heysham on October 21st had been ringed the previous February in Shropshire and shows how mobile this attractive little finch can be.

Other Recoveries of Note

A Blackbird caught at Heysham in March 2003 had been ringed the previous October in Rogaland, Norway.  Sedge warblers were reported on autumn migration in Sussex and Finistere, France.  A Reed Warbler was also reported from the west coast of France in Charente Maritime, while a juvenile Willow Warbler reached Wiltshire just 27 days after ringing in mid July.  A Goldcrest ringed at Heysham in October 2002 was killed by a cat near Macclesfield in December 2003.

John Wilson

Report from the National Bird Club Forum

On 21st February Andrew Cadman and myself attended the National Bird Club forum in Sutton Coldfield.  47 bird clubs were represented at the meeting which was hosted by the BTO and West Midlands Bird Club.  The meeting took place in response to concerns that bird clubs need to move with the times if they are to keep their current membership and to attract new members.

Dave Cromack, editor of Birdwatching magazine and member of Peterborough Bird Club, kicked off the meeting by identifying why people join a bird club: to get practical information e.g. about bird identification, sites, equipment;  to broaden their knowledge;  and to meet like-minded people.  Websites are now a very important asset to any bird club, and now attract over 50% of new members.  The most successful websites were those which updated information regularly and which had discussion groups to engage the members and give a sense of "belonging" to a club.

Dave identified 8 key points for successful bird clubs:

1.              Advertising the club and what it stands for as widely as possible.  Ideally a Press Officer would be appointed.

2.              Maximise access to club activities by having field meetings on different days and times to take into account member's work patterns.  Indoor meetings could be held at different places if the area of the bird club was large.  The needs of members should be raised at the AGM every year.

3.              Making sure new members were welcomed to the club by existing members.  Assigning "field mentors" to new members on field outings and advertising field outings as suitable for beginners.

4.              Increasing recreational bird activity by field trips to noted birding hotspots, having user friendly recording schemes like garden birdwatch, postings of good local birds on websites.

5.              Undertaking training sessions for the various bird-recording schemes by getting new members to accompany experienced survey workers to de-mystify the process of survey work.  Also to have outings where members could learn how to identify birds by sound as well as sight and how to identify and record habitats.

6.              Making a contribution to local conservation projects by e.g. organising working parties to local Wildlife Trust reserves, or holding a nest box making workshop.

7.              Investigating procedures to stop an "old guard" becoming established.  An interesting suggestion was to ban committee members from talking to each other during indoor meeting breaks!  But obviously the idea about procedures was to give newer members the chance to take on responsibilities and carry out innovations within the bird club.

8.              Finally, in the light of new Health and Safety regulations in this litiginous age, it is vital for clubs to get themselves insured for public liability as injury to a member on a field outing (e.g. injured by a tripod being swung round) could result in a claim for negligence and the club or one of its members could end up in court.

The 8 points generated an enormous amount of discussion at the Forum but the overwhelming opinion was that the bird clubs should take them forward and develop them. Although LDBWS does many of the things mentioned above there are still areas for improvement and no doubt the committee will be discussing these issues to address them.  Watch this space....!

Jean Roberts

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