Tuesday, 20 June 2017

New eider project on the Ythan

The University of Aberdeen, Grampian Ringing Group and Scottish National Heritage are collaborating to try and understand the large decline of the eider population (-70% since 1991) around the Ythan Estuary and Forvie NNR, Aberdeenshire.

After several decades of pause, the colour ringing of common eiders has now resumed with over 90 birds ringed in spring 2017 (and more to come). Combined with other data, we expect ring sightings will help elucidate the mechanisms of population change. In particular, large numbers of resightings of females all around the year are a key priority and individual birdwatchers’ contribution could make a difference. The eider have been ringed on their left legs with green colour rings with 2 white letters on.
A female eider with colour ring. Photo by Jenny Weston

Observers of ringed eiders are welcome to report their observations online using one of these two ways:

 1)      For occasional records, you may directly use the registration-free online form here: https://goo.gl/forms/k0TYtngZ7ropCIIs2 (slower data entry, no photo upload or location acquisition)

 2)      For regular observers or those with multiple records to submit, we strongly recommend using the much faster Epicollect5 app (on iPhone and Android) or website https://five.epicollect.net/ (registration required at first to be able to access the eider project). The form allows you to enter resighting data rapidly from your computer, tablet or smartphone, either online or offline in the field (with the app installed on your smartphone), to upload photos of the bird/rings, and to acquire the record location directly from your device. The data are stored on the device and can be uploaded to the project database once back online. To get registered as a user, please send an email to grg.ringing.eidersNoRobotgmail.com (replace NoRobot by @), providing your name and the email address of your Google account (a Google account can be set up with any email address). Registration is manual and may take a day or two.

A colour-ringed eider on the Ythan. Photo by Thomas Cornulier
To our knowledge, the current record is 27 individuals resighted in half a day on the Ythan and the first sighting from outside the area is eagerly awaited!

Many thanks in advance for your help,

Thomas Cornulier
Aberdeen University

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Forvie sandwich tern success spawns new grounds

Group members Ann and Walter Burns had a wee trip up north on the 7th June, 2017, including a visit to St. John’s Pool in Caithness.. http://www.stjohnspool-birds.co.uk/
Whilst there they managed to photograph 3 colour-ringed Sandwich Terns nesting on a purpose built island.

All 3 had been colour-ringed at the Ythan/Sands of Forvie.

Ringed as a juvenile on the Ythan on 16/8/10.
Had a Mediterranean holiday in Italy in late summer 2013.
Seen in the colony on Coquet Island, Northumberland in June 2014.
Seen at Lossiemouth in April 2016 before turning up at St John’s Pool 3 days later.

White EBT (Walter Burns)
Ringed as a chick at Forvie on 24/6/11.
Seen at Coquet Island, Northumberland on 30/5/14.
Seen at St John’s Pool in July 2016.
Yellow ECC (Walter Burns)

Light green/red
Ringed as a chick at Forvie in 2008.

Lime/red (Walter Burns)

The Sandwich tern colony at Forvie has enjoyed considerable success in recent years thanks to the efforts of the SNH full time and weekend staff who are kept busy with the public and maintain a protective electric fence around the colony to keep out ground predators. This year a whopping 950 pairs have settled down to breed.

Ringing has been carried out for more than 50 years at the colony. This allows us to monitor survival, recruitment, fidelity and the causes of any fluctuations within the colony. In this instance it also lets us know that with the colony thriving this is allowing the population to increase and expand, helping to establish new colonies such as the one at St. John’s Pool as identified by the colour-ringed birds from Forvie.