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Saturday 1st June 2019

Cracking male Black Redstart singing on the Fort roof. Other migrants were 2 Reed Warbler & a new Blackcap plus another dispersing juvenile Coal Tit. On the move southbound 13 Barnacle Geese, 4 Avocet, 3 Swift, 2 Oyk & Swallow with northbound 5 Sandwich Tern & 4 Swallow.

Male Broad-bodied Chaser on the Butts pond - this species is known to wanderlust in search of new sites and partners.

Ringing: 5 Linnet, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Blackcap, 1 Wood Pigeon.

May Ringing Totals

207 birds of 26 species is a wee tad better than the last couple of May's but poor compared with the months totals achieved last century.

Willow Warbler 45
Linnet 27
Chiffchaff 22
Lesser Whitethroat 17
Blackcap 16
Starling 13
Great Tit 8
Whitethroat 7
Dunnock 6
Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 5
Spotted Flycatcher 5
Wood Pigeon 5
Blue Tit 4
Reed Warbler 4
Song Thrush 4
Robin 3
Blackbird 2
Wren 2
Coal Tit 1
Firecrest 1
Greenfinch 1
Magpie 1
Pied Flycatcher 1
Swallow 1
Wood Warbler 1

Friday 31st May 2019

We failed to see a Turtle Dove in 2018 so it was pleasing to have one on site this morning. Other migrants were Blackcap, Spotted Fly & a dispersing juvenile Coal Tit that didn't look old enough to be away from mummy. Heading south 23 Swallow, 4 Swift, 2 House Martin & Barnacle Goose.

Anyone one doesn't find Buff-tip impressive really should see their Doctor for a lobotomy.

Ringing: 5 Linnet, 1 Blackcap, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Dunnock, 1 Wood Pigeon.

Thursday 30th May 2019

Southbound 55 Swallow, 22 Swift, 17 House Martin & Grey Wagtail. Grounded migrants were what is presumably yesterdays Skylark plus new Blackcap & Lesser 'throat. Offshore 9 Brent went north & 1 south plus a handful of terns coming and going.

White Colon is fairly regular, sometimes in good numbers. It is listed as a Nationally Scarce Species.

Ringing: 1 Blackcap, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Lesser Whitethroat.

Motus - Press Release

Motus in the UK!   A new national bat and bird tracking project

Many of the birds we have in the UK are migratory species that either breed here and leave in the winter to warmer climates or spend the winter here in order to escape even colder climates to the North and East. However, there is still much we do not know about how, when, where and why birds migrate. We know even less about bat migration, with three species found in Britain known to migrate, but little known about where they migrate to and from. Furthermore, many migratory bird and bat species are declining, due to anthropogenic pressures, such as: habitat loss, global warming, and persecution.
A large collaboration of scientists and conservationists have been working together to advance research into migratory bats and birds in the UK by building a network of receivers that can track them through the installation of tiny radio transmitters fitted to the animal. These transmitters weigh only 0.3g, so even very small creatures can carry them without detriment to their performance. When a tagged bat or bird passes within range of a receiver (2-15 km depending on the terrain and how high the animal is flying), the receiver automatically logs the presence and direction of flight of the animal. If there is a large network of such radio-receiving stations, we can detail there movement over large areas and timescales. This collaborative network, named “Motus Wildlife Tracking System” was designed in Canada and can provide researchers with valuable data on birds such as, migratory routes, lifespan, dispersal and foraging behaviour. Motus is already being used in continental Europe and there are already many of these receivers in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Morocco ( Therefore, expanding this network into the UK can deliver fascinating information about the movements of migratory animals across Europe, an idea simultaneously designed at Spurn Bird Observatory, on Yorkshire’s east coast and across the water in the Netherlands.
Initially, two research questions will be investigated using the Motus network. One, led by the University of Hull, the British Trust for Ornithology, the Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland” and the Bird Observatories Council, will seek to investigate the recent trend of increased westward Yellow Browed Warbler migration. This species usually breeds in Siberia and then migrates to South-east Asia to avoid the harsh winters. However, recently they have been seen in increasing numbers migrating in the opposite direction, through northern (continental) Europe, into Britain, and with sightings thereafter in south-west Europe and even western Africa. By tagging these birds and recording their direction of migration using the Motus network, as well as doing genetic and stable isotope analysis on feather samples, researchers hope to find out more about where and why these birds are changing their migratory patterns.
The second project, led by Wageningen University & Research, in the Netherlands, in cooperation with the Bat Conservation Trust and Norwich Bat Group, seeks to find out the migration route of the bat species, Nathusius’ pipistrelle. The movements of bats in and out of the UK and their overseas migration routes and origins are very poorly understood. Scientists hope to track these bats across their range, in addition to assessing the potential threat of offshore wind farms to their survival. The findings will be used to aid the conservation of bats across their migratory route.
Recently, researchers from Wageningen University, the University of Hull and Norwich Bat group, installed three receivers in East Anglia, with several more planned to be installed in England and Wales by the UK Bird Observatories before this year’s autumn migration.

Motus receiver installed at Landguard bird observatory.

Overall, the UK Motus network has the potential to increase our understanding and help conserve many species of both bats and birds. Bird and bat groups across Britain can become involved and own their own receiver station.  The installation of receiver stations in Britain is being overseen by a Strategic Steering Committee involving the University of Hull, BTO, and the Bird Observatories Council.  Any such groups or individuals interested in joining the scheme should register with the committee by contacting Dr Adham Ashton-Butt ( for further information.
The findings of the initial UK projects and future projects will be eagerly awaited by scientists, conservationists and nature lovers alike.
Dr Adham Ashton-Butt
University of Hull

Wednesday 29th May 2019

Grounded migrants almost non-existent although a Skylark was on site. Southbound went 5 Swallow, 2 House Martin & Jackdaw. Offshore northbound 35 Brent, 5 Sandwich Tern, 3 Oyk, Gannet & Red-throated Diver with southbound 4 Barnacle Geese, 2 Gannet, Fulmar & Oyk. Although Red-throats in the winter are expected one at the end of May is noteworthy. 23 Little & 10 Common Tern offshore.

Cream-spot Tiger has started coming out to play.

Ringing: 2 Dunnock, 2 Great Tit, 2 Linnet, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Robin, 1 Wood Pigeon.

Tuesday 28th May 2019

Todays migrants are 3 Spot Fly, White Wag plus a Chiffchaff wearing a Danish ring which is fairly exceptional as only a grand total of 13 of its countrymen have been noted before in the whole of the UK in over 100 years of ringing. A Coal Tit is presumably a dispersing juvenile from fairly nearby. Offshore northbound Gannet & Kitt plus southbound 8 Shelduck 4 Kitts, 2 Fulmar & Curlew. As we have barely had a summer I don't want to upset anyone out there but the Curlew is quite probably the start of the autumn passage in this species. On a more cheerful note up to 27 Little Tern were feeding just off the beach for quite a while which is much more joyous and summer like.

Following a cooler night with showers fewer moths but additionals to the year list are emerging daily including Oak Hook-tip which is common in woodland but infrequent with us.

Ringing: 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin.

Monday 27th May 2019

Having failed to record a Cuckoo here in 2018 one present this morning is pleasing. Other migrants were restricted to 1 Spot Fly and southbound 23 Swallow, 4 Oyk, 3 Swift, 2 House Martin, Avocet & Sanderling plus northbound 5 Brent. 650 assorted seagulls offshore when ploughed through revealed nothing more exciting than 5 Meds & 2 Common Gull. Worth a mention is the fact that both of the male Blackcaps that have been singing on the Icky ridge and in the observatory compound appear to have accompanying females with a third male that has been singing seemingly to have moved on. Blackcap has only bred here successfully on one previous occasion.

Blastobsis laticolella is an adventive species from Madeira introduced via the horticultural trade which can be very common here as the season progresses.

Ringing: 1 Blue Tit.

Sunday 26th May 2019

Single Chiffchaff & Tree Pipit are todays migrants although 3 Canada Geese could be birds contemplating undertaking a moult migration to the Beauly Firth. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was with the gulls offshore.

Noctuid moths that are well marked should, in theory, be easy to identify although this one took a while before settling on Small Clouded Brindle.

Ringing: 1 Blue Tit, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Dunnock, 1 Robin, 1 Wood Pigeon.