Friday 24 July 2020

Friday 24th July

Humid, calm and still during a high tide were optimal conditions for scrutinising ringed birds and efforts were well rewarded. An innocuous metal ring on a Sandwich Tern field read as '4H18572' reveals a remarkable story.  This is one of only five ever ringed in South Africa and recovered in Britain.  Ringed at Port Alfred on 1st December 2007 as an adult, would make this bird at least 15 years old. The same bird was seen here at Dawlish Warren 18th - 22nd July 2019 and at Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset on 11th May 2008 and 7th May 2011, where presumably it was attending the breeding colony.  Distances quoted with ring recoveries are straight lines, but by following the coast, the true 'direct' distance is over 9,000 miles (>14,500 km) away.  Given assumptions about its age, migration route, site fidelity and average foraging distances when at its breeding (e.g. Thaxter et al, 2012) and wintering sites, this bird has flown the equivalent distance to the Moon and part of the way back (>267,000 miles!).  Estimates were based on this bird being only only half of its maximum possible age.  And behold, here it is -

'4H18572' South African-ringed Sandwich Tern - Lee Collins
The first metal-ringed juvenile Sandwich Tern of the year was also seen today, 'NL1 872' (read as two columns) is a new type of ring used in the Netherlands ('NL'), Germany ('6A'), Denmark (V0') and Poland ('PL').  

Also today, there was a noticeable increase in Oystercatcher and counts included 289 Curlew, 153 Dunlin, 121+ Redshank, 69 Sanderling, 33 Whimbrel, 18 Ringed Plover, 14 Little Egret, 11 Cormorant, nine Mute Swan with new bird 'FDA', seven adult Canada Goose, five Bar-tailed Godwit, three Greenshank, a Turnstone, a Grey Heron and the Slavonian Grebe.

Seven Mediterranean Gull included two white-ringed juvs '33JR' and '34JK', both ringed in Belgium; six Great Black-backed Gull, six Common Tern, an adult Little Tern, a metal ringed Roseate Tern and a juv Yellow-legged Gull.

juv Belgian-ringed Mediterranean Gull - Lee Collins
Little Tern - Lee Collins

Just 18 Gannet and a raft of nine Common Scoter offshore.  The pair of Mute Swan with two surviving cygnets and an immature Little Grebe remain on the Main Pond.

Flocks totaling c155 Starling roamed the yellowing grasslands; in the woodlands and buches were at least twenty each of Greenfinch and Goldfinch, eight Stonechat, single figures each of Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff plus a Willow Warbler.  Also two Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Bullfinch and the juv Redstart was again in its favoured bush for its seventh day.  

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