Ringing report for Sculthorpe Moor 2010

Ringing report for Sculthorpe Moor 2010     Phil Littler

2010 proved to be a productive year for some species at Sculthorpe, and for others less so, with the possible loss of two Red data species as a breeding bird, namely Willow Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

In total, 322 birds were processed, with Reed Bunting (another Red Data species) at 47 pushing Blue Tit into second place. As normal Great Tit pulli (un-fledged young) were the prominent passerine ringed, making full use of the 32 nest boxes around the site, but Treecreeper was a nice bird, again making use of a nest box. Marsh Harrier stands out as well, with 9 pulli ringed; this in itself is a great number from a small reed bed, but when you consider that nationwide in 2009 only 72 were ringed, it puts into perspective how important Sculthorpe Moor is to Marsh Harriers.

Two colour ringing projects are currently underway on the Moor: one is in conjunction with the NOA and Pensthorpe and is studying the movement, if any, of Marsh and Willow Tits along the Wensum Valley, and the second involves the North West Norfolk Ringing Group catching Reed and Sedge Warblers to study site fidelity. To date, fifteen Marsh Tits have been caught and ringed, and just one Willow tit – a sad indictment on the state of this species within Norfolk. Colour ringing involves adding a unique colour combination of plastic rings, in addition to the BTO numbered ring, when the bird is either caught in a mist net, or the pulli are ringed in the nest. In our scheme, the Marsh Tit is being ringed with a red plastic ring above the metal on the right leg, and the colour combination on the left, and the same for the Willow Tit, but the identifying colour is blue. The picture above left shows the red above metal on the birds right leg, thus identifying it as a Marsh Tit, and on the birds left leg the unique colour combination of white over red. With this system this and any other bird can be immediately recognised in the field, thereby negating the need to re-trap. This particular bird was caught on 25 Jan 2010 and bears the ring number V411445. It had been born the previous year, and has been seen on and off around the reserve since then.

With reference to the Reed and Sedge Warbler project, this was only started in 2010, and while still in its infancy has produced one good result. In total, 15 Sedge and 36 Reed Warblers were caught and ringed in just 3 sessions near the Paul Johnson hide. Two of the Reed Warblers were already ringed; one caught as an adult near Guist in 2009, and another caught as a young bird in 2009 in Wiltshire. Hopefully, as this scheme progresses, more Reed and Sedge Warblers will either be caught, or the combinations read in the field. Forms will be available in the hides and visitor centre, so if you do see a colour ringed bird, please do report it.

The bird above right is a young Reed Warbler, born on the reserve and bears the BTO ring number X025575. Hopefully it will return to Sculthorpe from its’ African wintering grounds next April!

Phil Littler

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