It is some considerable time now since I have posted about the latest news on the ring-reading front. This does not mean that matters have been standing still! Whilst, as now seems to be usual (sorry to all contributors!!), I remain about three weeks behind with giving feedback, collectively by mid-March we had amassed 11,314 records of 1,600 individuals over this winter, which is considerably ahead of last winter. Overall, the database now contains over 170,000 records - brilliant, and thanks to all of you who have contributed!!
As the title of this post implies, some birds are now very much "on the move". From memory, the first record of such a bird I recorded myself was of B7RY at Killough Harbour, County Down on 24 February, a bird which had last been recorded from Dublin by Christer Persson in January. This bird has staged at Killough every spring since being ringed at Red Arches, Baldoyle in 2010. Such records of individual birds staging have been increasing apace since the start of March, so it is well worthwhile checking out the more northerly sites around this time of year. Whilst we have yet to analyse the data from this aspect, my personal impression, from the returns of marked birds, and the general numbers of birds at individual sites, would be that most birds just get up and migrate to Iceland without staging. In particular, there is little evidence that the large numbers of birds which pass through Strangford Lough in the autumn do so on the way back in spring.
Nevertheless, some birds do stage, and appear quite often be quite consistent in the site chosen, like B7RY. Another such bird is U3WR, ringed as a juvenile during an autumn catch at Strangford Lough in 2014. For the second year, this bird has been recorded across the winter in Normandy, France, by Alain Livory, Roselyne Coulomb and Bruno Chevalier, only to be subsequently recorded from Milford Haven in Wales, this year by Derek Grimwood and Brian Southern.
First spring record from the Scottish Islands, where birds sometimes stage in spring (often associated with deteriorating weather conditions), came from North Uist, recorded by David Henshilwood. TLRB had been ringed in High Arctic Canada during our last expedition there in summer 2014, and had last been recorded from Keadew Bay, on the County Donegal coast, by Rachel Stroud and Niall Tierney, during their work on NEWS (Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey) in January!
Yesterday came news from Gareth Platt that he had re-sighted five new arrivals at Myroe, all of which had moved up there from being recently recorded from Dublin. Gareth has recently been recording on a regular basis from there, a location for which David Nixon and I have only been able to attempt occasional coverage between us in the past. And, better still, Gareth records birds by photographing them - thanks to him for the above excellent shot!! Whilst numbers at Myroe appear to be remaining relatively constant, it will be particularly interesting to establish how much through-put goes on at the site, which is an important autumn staging area.
And finally, news from good friend Magnus Magnusson that 23 brent geese were counted yesterday at Alftanes, the main Icelandic study/catch area, just south of Reykjavik. The geese certainly are "on the move"!!