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Saturday 27th April 2019

Gale picking up as the morning went on gusting to force 8 making birding difficult. Offshore southbound 8 Dunlin, 5 Oystercatcher, 5 Whimbrel, 4 Fulmar, 4 Common Tern, 3 Shelduck, 2 Curlew, Gadwal, Little Egret & Sandwich Tern with northbound 2 Gannet, 2 Shelduck, Red-throated Diver & Sandwich Tern. On site 4 Wheatear, Blackcap, Sparrowhawk & Willow Warbler but with this wind there may be more as everything keeps its head down.

Ringing: 1 Blackcap, 1 Willow Warbler.

Friday 26th April 2019

On site 15 Wheatear, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Yellow Wag, 2 Turnstone, 2 Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Ring Ouzel, Sanderling, Sparrowhawk & Whinchat. On the move southbound 19 Goldfinch, 14 Swallow, 8 Whimbrel, Curlew, Sand Martin & Yellow Wag.

Ringing: 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Robin, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Wood Pigeon.

Motus Sponsership

And the first bird to perch on the new mast is ?

Landguard Bird Observatory is looking for grants/sponsorship/donations to cover the running costs of this new technology. The equipment has been kindly provided by Wageningen Marine Research but ongoing costs will be for a monthly SIM card, electricity and unknown maintenance costs will be borne by the observatory. Anyone willing to contribute please e-mail

Motus Automated Telemetry

Yesterday a Motus system automated telemetry aerial was kindly supplied and fitted by Wageningen Marine Research based at Wageningen University, Holland. As it was getting dark a Parti-coloured Bat was released fitted with a transmitter so that its movements will, hopefully, be picked up by other receivers. This bat had been found on a vessel in the southern North Sea last September and has been kept in quarantine, as it is a non native species, before a licence was acquired to allow its release. Further information on this research is below.

Nick Whitehouse from Spurn Bird Observatory has recently released this press release:
At the British Bird Observatories Council meeting in February held at BTO HQ in Norfolk, Spurn Bird Observatory tabled a motion proposing that British bird observatories should work together with other key partners here and on the continent to utilise modern tracking technology with the aim of understanding more about the movements of so-called theorised ‘reverse migrants’ across Western Europe into Britain and beyond.
The proposal was enthusiastically received and the advantages and limitations of the three key tracking technologies i.e. satellite, geolocation and radio telemetry, were discussed. The Motus system which uses fixed radio telemetry was identified as having real potential to assist in such studies, being already in use, with a proven track record in North America and continental Europe. The idea would be to develop a coordinated network of receivers here in Britain to compliment those in Europe and begin to monitor the movements of certain key species fitted with ultra-lightweight nanotags.
Yellow-browed Warbler is a typical species of interest, though there are other reverse and drift migrants and other species of which we could learn more about using the system. It was decided that before any such national project could get underway, the support of a University would be desirable to help develop the plan. A meeting with the University of Hull then took place at Spurn in March where our vision was explained. To everyone’s delight the university were keen to play a significant role in what has been named “Project Yellow-browed”. They have agreed to act as project managers, coordinating activity to develop the network as well as in due course taking on data collation and analysis work. Funding is of course a prime issue, and individual observatories are endeavouring to secure ‘seed funding’ to purchase their own first receivers. By doing so, larger funding bids, led by the university are more likely to be successful. A receiving station costs around £4- 5k.
A number of bird observatories are wanting to be amongst the first tranche of Motus users including Landguard, Sandwich Bay and Dungeness in the south-east, Bardsey and Portland in the south-west, Fair Isle and of course ourselves at Spurn. Others are talking to their own governing bodies about becoming involved. It would be great for example to have a Yorkshire coast ‘cluster’ of receivers at the county’s observatories and even some inland, for instance up on the Pennies. By having a project Steering Committee with a broad membership including the University of Hull, BTO, Bird Observatories Council and others, issues such as licensing and standards for members wanting to register for the scheme and have their own receiver(s) can be fully covered within the project. The committee can also be flexible and adapt through time to changing technologies, their costs and effectiveness. The great thing about Motus is that private individuals, bird clubs, ringing groups and conservation bodies can also get involved. See for information about the system.
Some early work has started with fact finding visits planned by the university to look at and learn about the equipment first hand with colleagues across the North Sea in Helgoland. Word spreads quickly and bat study groups on the continent have been in touch wanting to help as the system has wider applications than avian research. They are wanting to support the positioning of several receivers on the Norfolk coast. The more receivers the merrier increasing the chances of ‘hits’ on tagged subjects, whether birds or other animals.
So, some promising progress to report, but as ever it’s one step at a time and we must be prepared for ups and downs on the project. There is a great sense that fellow bird observatories want to step up to the mark and get involved with modern technologies where possible. It is after all nearly 100 years since bird ringing started, and that continues to provide excellent results. Using modern technologies can complement on-going ringing work and take migration studies even further forward.

Thursday 25th April 2019

Ring Ouzel still here behaving itself. Also on site 7 Wheatear, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 2 Mipit, Whinchat, Willow Warbler & a couple of new Robins. Offshore drake Velvet Scoter heading north was a bit unexpected as we only have seven previous April sightings. Also northbound 7 Sandwich Tern, 7 Whimbrel, 2 Fulmar, Barwit & Gannet with southbound 29 Swallow, 2 Whimbrel & Curlew.

Ringing: 2 Robin, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Wren.

Wednesday 24th April 2019

First couple of Whinchat of the season with back up in the form of 9 Wheatear, 6 Song Thrush, 4 Blackcap, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Mipits, Ring Ouzel, Willow Warbler, Yellow Wag plus a few new Robin & Wren passing through. On the move northbound 29 Curlew with southbound 9 Swallow, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Gadwal, 2 Goldfinch & Fulmar.

The first Red Admiral butterfly of the year is worth a mention with this worn one presumably an overwintering individual.

Paronix species are notoriously difficult to identify correctly although this is is probably P. anglicella.

Ringing: 4 Song Thrush, 3 Wren, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Robin.

Tuesday 23rd April 2019

Overcast with a stronger ENE wind produced some interest with 4 Eiders off the point, a fairly obliging Ring Ouzel with a supporting cast of 6 Wheatear, 2 Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk & Whitethroat. On the move southbound 11 Common Scoter, 2 Barwit & 2 Curlew with northbound 4 Greylags, 3 Oyks, 3 Sandwich Tern, Common Scoter & Whimbrel plus 2 Mute Swan that headed out to sea.

Milder night so a few more moths appearing including Common Swift.

Ringing: 2 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Whitethroat.

Monday 22nd April 2019

An entertaining variety of migrants noted with a flock of 17 Little Terns hacking north a goodly gang for this early in the season. On site 10 Wheatear, 6 Blackcap, 4 Song Thrush, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Black Red, Chiffchaff, Fieldfare, Merlin, Mipit, Yellow Wagtail plus a couple of new Blackies & Robins. Also southbound overhead 6 Swallow & 2 Yellow Wags. Offshore northbound 9 Oyks, 6 Common Gull 3 Fulmar & Avocet with southbound a pair of Eider & Greylag Goose. A small Bat flying around late morning evaded identification.

Ringing: 5 Blackcap, 2 Blackbird, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Linnet, 2 Robin, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Wood Pigeon, 1 Wren.

AGM Reminder

The AGM will take place at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 30th April 2019 at Felixstowe Bowls Club Committee Room, Crescent Road, Felixstowe IP11 7PB Members should have received a copy of the AGM Agenda plus the minutes of last years meeting but in a couple of instances we do not hold a current e-mail address - if you are a member & have not received the relevant paperwork and would like a copy please contact

Sunday 21st April 2019

Only our third ever Water Pipit dropped in briefly before departing north-east with previous Landguard records on 1st April 1978 & 17th April 2003. Migrants today included 9 Wheatear, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, Fieldfare, Mipit, Swallow plus a couple of new Blackies, Robin & Songies. 6 Wood Pigeon went high south.

Male Muslin moth is our first of the year.

Ringing: 2 Blackbird, 2 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Linnet, 1 Robin, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Whitethroat.