How much do you really know about the birds on your patch?
On the surface of things, it's probably quite a lot. I'm sure you know when to expect the first singing willow warbler, how curlew numbers fluctuate through the year, or where the best places to look for snipe are. But how much do you know about the lives of the individual birds that live on your patch?
Probably not so much. Mostly, because it's very difficult to know anything about an individual bird because, well, all the rock pipits look the same as each other, dont they.
All of the extra attention I'm paying to the commoner birds has made me realise how many birds on my local patch are colour ringed. I've started paying attention to these rings as well, and supplying my records to the local ringing group. The feedback I've been getting from them is fascinating...
The details below refer to some darvic rings I read on roosting shags at the beginning of January
All are from the Isle of May, except that SDI is from Bullers of Buchan.
This winter: No previous sightings
Last winter: Also seen in Aberdeen.
Your sighting (the first this winter) is great because it shows between-winter philopatry to Girdleness!
An Aberdeen faithful:
This winter: Hasn't been seen since Nov, so your sighting is really valuable
No previous sightings this winter or last!
No previous sightings (it was ringed as a chick in 2012).
These last two are really helpful - showing that there are clearly some new ones still to find in Aberdeen. Obviously we need to keep plugging away!
The next refers to some colour ringed rock pipits that I've observed through the first half of the month. I wasn't expecting too much interest back from these reports as our (petrosus) rock pipits are pretty sedentary and, I thought, dont do anything interesting....
M/G Y/R was ringed as an adult male, on 16/10/2010. Breeds at the north end of Greyhope Bay, near where you saw him. I saw him on 23/11/1012. The 'Shag-spotter' & her other half have been there quite a bit lately & saw him on 15/01/2013.
M/G Y/Y was ringed on 24/04/2011 at the breakwater under the Battery, where you saw him 1st time? Another male, holding territory in that area. He is mentioned in one of my blog posts, as he sang away all summer in 2011 & never attracted a mate. Happily, he bred successfully in 2012. His female is also ringed, but has never been seen over the winter - yet.
Y only M only was ringed as a nestling on 27/05/2006, at the southernmost territory in the area, towards Nigg Bay. Last seen 21/09/2012, so good to know he's still about. Mentioned in a blog post, as I'd first seen him breeding under the lighthouse, 500m away from where he hatched, on 14/06/2010. We finally managed to catch him on 12/05/2012, to read the ring & add the colour. He is the only bird to fledge young from all known nesting attempts.
Whilst trying to catch him, I managed to catch his 2 females. The first in 2010, which did not return the following year. The second was the other bird you reported: M/G R/R, near to the territory. She was ringed on 25/06/2011, and has bred under the lighthouse for the last 2 seasons. Last seen on 04/01/2013.
Brilliant, isn't it! That people take the time to study these things, and take the time to pass their findings on to you, and all you have to do is pay a little attention.
You can find out more about 'my' rock pipits by looking at the grampian ringing groups blog.
And if you see any colour rings, but don't know where to report them, this is an excellent starting point. Hopefully you'll get some feedback as good as mine.