Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 UK Review

And so 2012 has already passed us by and once more I shall compose a brief review of the year from the perspective of a Scouse Ringer and the very talented Moxey.

2012 will be remembered for a number of reasons:
  • Rain
  • Rain 
  • Rain
  • Record Swift catch
  • Poor breeding season
  • Yellowhammers and a year at Kings Moss
  • Winter Waxwings
  • Did I mention rain?
It has been confirmed that 2012 was only a days rainfall away from being the wettest year on record. The weather this year has significantly impacted our ringing totals, however not in the ways that most expect. The poor breeding season experienced by all this summer was demonstrated in a decrease in almost all of our summer visitor species, in particular the ground-nesting species such as Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler whilst despite a strong showing in the spring, the autumn catches of Blackcap were well below what we had expected based on the previous year. We had another poor breeding season for Barn Owls with high rates of cannibalism and a significant numbers of deserted nests. It wasn't all doom and gloom however as we did manage to ring three young Buzzards and wing-tagged them as part of a study being conducted by Steve Binney from the Merseyside RG.

First SWLRG wing-tagged Buzzard

Through the months of May and June, the cool and wet weather meant that we were unable to complete a lot of our scheduled weekend sessions on Rimrose Valley. This however, provided numerous opportunities to get out and capture Swifts, House Martins and Swallows - this meant that 2012, the fifteenth year of our Swift study, was our biggest in terms of the number of birds ringed. Me and Moxey are currently in the process of analysing that data set in the hope of looking deeper into the decline of Swifts in the UK.

Swift (Apus apus)

We completed our first full calendar year of ringing at Kings Moss, ringing in excess of 1300 birds including large numbers of finches as well as regionally-less common birds such as Yellowhammer and Willow Tit. We had a number of bumper sessions in the autumn with some big catches of Goldfinch and, in particular, Greenfinch as well as catching an exceptionally late Tree Pipit.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

 Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

Goldcrests featured high in our totals this year, the majority of which were caught on passage during the autumn and caught across all of our sites but Hightown and Crosby Hall in particular. Hightown was the site of our first foreign control in a long time, a Sedge Warbler with a French ring, the ringing details of which have just come in.

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)


The tail-end of 2012 saw a little bit of class arrive in SW Lancs with upto 200 Waxwings turning up in varying flock sizes from Formby to Everton Brow. We didn't have many opportunities to catch these erruptive winter visitors, but on two occasions we were able to attempt to catch in Formby and on both occasions we were successful, catching one individual (of four) and then four individuals (of eight). This brought the total ringed by SWLRG in our existence to seven.

Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)

There were many highlights this year, some of which are listed above, some in the UK, others in Portugal which I will discuss on another day, hence the 'UK' in the title. So to finish off, here's the top ten ringed (you can find the full ringing totals in the panel on the right hand side of the page:

1. Swift - 823
2. Blue Tit - 574
3. House Martin - 434
4. Greenfinch - 402
5. Chaffinch - 388
6. Swallow - 298
7. Goldfinch - 272
8. Blackcap - 252
9. Great Tit - 244
10. Goldcrest - 214

TOTAL: 5240


  1. A bit of a mixed year for you. Lets hope 2013 is kinder.

  2. I have seen a tree pipit only once before, and yet you are holding one!