Sunday, 16 January 2011

Colour ringed godwits and egret

A family wedding in north Norfolk in August gave me a rare opportunity to grab a few hours birding along the coast between Stiffkey and Cley. A strong south-westerly ensured that the mouthwatering selection of rares and scarce migrants that I had been hoping for failed to materialise (other than a probable Richard's Pipit west over Stiffkey early one morning). Nevertheless, compared with the norm at East Lothian, I was impressed with the Mediterranean feel that the Norfolk coast now has with its smattering of Eurasian Spoonbills, Little Egrets and Avocets. Quite a change since my more regular trips there in the late eighties and early nineties.

One of the nice things about birding in north Norfolk is how easy it can be to observe large numbers of birds at relatively close range without disturbing them. One advantage of this is that it increases the chances of noticing and reading colour ring combinations. At Stiffkey Fen on 22 August I noted a couple of Black-tailed Godwits colour ringed above the 'knee'. Using the colour ring website, the relevant ringing group could be tracked down easily.

I heard today from Vigfús Eyjólfsson in Iceland that LO-OR (left leg: lime above orange; right leg: orange above red) was ringed as a pullus (chick) in northern Iceland in 2004, spent the winter of 05-06 at Wexford Slobs, was seen in Friesland in the Netherlands the following spring before being noted at Frodsham in Cheshire the following autumn. In winter 08-09 it was seen at Marshside in Lancashire, before being seen in the Netherlands again the following spring. Since late summer 2010 it had been seen at Titchwell and Cley on thirteen dates before this sighting at Stiffkey Fen. Of course, from ringing studies we know that all Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits make equivalent journeys to this bird, but it always seems especially remarkable to find out this sort of history about any individual bird observed in the field.

LO-OR may well be in the foreground of the above pictures. Note the 'action shot' of the Spoonbill in the lower image...
The same morning I had seen this Little Egret which had been standing in a pool on the public coastal footpath near Morston Quay. Its colour ring combination was Left: orange 6; right: yellow F. This bird had been ringed in Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, earlier in 2010 as a nestling. I had seen a similar dispersing juvenile at Aberlady Bay in East Lothian on 11 August, one of several that moved through the county this year. How long until they decide to stay I wonder?

No comments: