Ringing Report 2019

As from the 1st January 2019 all of the bird ringing operating throughout the historical area east of the Dykes and also at Bempton is carried out by The Flamborough Bird Observatory (FBO) ringing group.  Succeeding the now defunct East Yorkshire Ringing Group.

2019 was another year dominated by westerlies, denying us of even a modest period of easterlies in which to hope for numbers of grounded migrants.  We had some 15 registered ringers and trainees active at various times during the year in addition to a few visiting ringers. In the twelve month period there were 105 different ringing sessions during 82 days of ringing activity at our main headland ringing sites. We also benefited from regular trapping and ringing in Paul and Jenny Butterworth’s  garden and at Andy Hood’s residence, Ocean View, where the two sites amassed over 30% of the total birds ringed.  The importance of South Landing as our prime ringing and demonstration site was again in evidence, accounting for almost 40% of all birds ringed.

Another record breaking year on the Outer Head !   

3348 birds of 65 species which has comfortably passed last year’s record breaking Flamborough year of  2938 birds of 61 species.  We have now logged this as the 6th year in succession to record a year on year increase in ringing totals.  New additions to the species list were; Nuthatch, two birds were caught and ringed in South Dykes in March after taking up residency for several months and Cetti’s Warbler on 22nd April and 27th September.  It will be interesting to see whether Nuthatch establishes itself in the wooded areas and whether further sightings of this species are of ringed birds. 

The top 5 species ringed east of the dykes during 2018 were:   Starling 464, Goldcrest 268, Blackbird 232, Blue Tit 224 and Robin 175.  The ringing of migrant warblers has also continued to see increase.   434 migrant warblers ringed surpassed last year’s highest ever total at Flamborough by a margin of well over 100 birds. Lesser Whitethroat (20), Whitethroat (54) and Willow Warbler (38) maintained their healthy totals of 2018 and the Icterine and Wood Warblers were the first to be ringed since the inception of the Bird Observatory in 2002.  The Blackcap (150) and Chiffchaff (136) totals were both approximately twice their previous highest year totals!

The two most productive months were as usual September and October together accounting for 47% of all new birds ringed, nets being set on 15 days during each month.  The three best days’ ringing totals of 177, 158 and 146 were all achieved during the Ringing and Migration Week (October 12th – 20th) held in conjunction with our friends at Filey Bird Observatory. That week returned 728 birds ringed at Flamborough of 33 species, with birds caught and ringed on all 9 days, a sterling effort from all concerned, despite not having the best of weather.  

Ringing highlights of 2019, apart from the two new species already mentioned above would include Tree Pipit, the Icterine Warbler (the 20th to be ringed at Flamborough and the first since 1997), a Wood Warbler (the 15th for Flamborough and the first this century) and 5 Yellow-browed Warbler (somewhat disappointing after the previous two years).   The number of Goldfinch (112) ringed was again the highest year total since the Observatory was founded, whereas Lesser Redpoll were noticeable by their absence – a meagre 4 individuals caught during the whole of the autumn.   

Bird ringing to the west of the Dykes was carried out at Bempton and Buckton.

2019 marked the first full calendar year of ringing activities at Bempton Cliffs, which included the running of a whoosh net in a Bempton village garden. Between the two sites a combined total of 1490 new birds of 44 species were ringed from 51 ringing sessions during the 12-month period. 

The top five species ringed were Tree Sparrow 519, Starling 100, Goldcrest 72, Wren 65, and Robin 58. A Tree Sparrow nest record scheme project was continued for a third consecutive year where a remarkable 296 nestlings were ringed from nest boxes. Furthermore, 223 full grown birds were also ringed over the course of the year.  Star birds were Pallas’s Warbler,  Siberian, tristis race of Chiffchaff, Barred Warbler and a Yellow-browed Warbler.

In addition to the above mentioned, all ringing efforts for the Flamborough Bird observatory were supported by David Aitken, Phil Bone, Tony Corscadden, Ana Cowie, Jacob Davies, Jo Hood, Imogen Lloyd, Lucas Mander, Julia Wildi, Ian Marshall, Jim Morgan, John McEachen, Steve Westerberg, Tina Wiffen, Elliot Morley, Josh Saunders, Saskia Wischnewski, Sara Miller, Andy Jayes, Harriet Day, Michael Babcock and Will Scott.

At Buckton during 2019 a total of 1102 new birds were ringed by Mark Thomas, Ed Green, Dave Aitken and Richard Hearn. This represents the third highest total in the last 19 years. Highest species totals were Tree sparrow (147), Redwing (142), Yellowhammer (77), Robin (70) and Reed Bunting (67). Good numbers of buntings were attracted to seed and caught in the early part of the winter but following this, spring migration was rather disappointing. The breeding season was good with juvenile Kestrels, Barn Owls, Stock Doves, Swallows and Tree Sparrows all ringed. Autumn migration never really peaked although combined thrush numbers were excellent including three Ring Ouzel. Two Yellow-browed Warblers were caught along with four Siberian Lesser Whitethroats – all confirmed by DNA analysis.

There have been 27 reported movements of birds to or from Flamborough Head during 2019.   The highlights being;  Goldcrest from Flamborough to Norway and from Buckton to The Netherlands and Lesser Whitethroat from Belgium to Flamborough and from Buckton to Belgium.

Flamborough Headland Ringing Totals

SpeciesEast of DykesBemptonBucktonGrand Total
Water Rail11
Herring Gull11
Stock Dove113216
Collared Dove527
Barn Owl202628
Tawny Owl22
Great Spotted Woodpecker3328
Sand Martin11
Tree Pipit112
Meadow Pipit9050140
Rock Pipit1616
Pied Wagtail33
Ring Ouzel235
Song Thrush511653120
Mistle Thrush11
Cetti’s Warbler22
Grasshopper Warbler11
Sedge Warbler1631029
Reed Warbler91616
Icterine Warbler11
Barred Warbler11
Lesser Whitethroat2071138
Garden Warbler8311
Pallas’s Warbler11
Yellow-browed Warbler5128
Wood Warbler11
Willow Warbler40361187
Spotted Flycatcher11
Pied Flycatcher2316
Long-tailed Tit752410109
Coal Tit28129
Blue Tit2302826284
Great Tit12274133
Carrion Crow22
House Sparrow343266
Tree Sparrow142504147793
Lesser Redpoll44
Reed Bunting221167100
Corn Bunting44
Species total65444974