Friday 26 February 2021

National Water Pipit Project - January 2021

During 2020 we decided to try to make more of the darvic marking efforts with Water Pipits on Staines Moor and invite other ringers with suitable sites to join our efforts. Every year the number of Water Pipits ringed in the UK is always very low, often barely into double figures so the prospect of  collecting data on these rare Winter visitors seemed most worthwhile. By the time Water Pipits were due to arrive back at their UK wintering quarters we had distributed darvics and scheme rules to 10 agents, ready to mark birds on our behalf. Sites ranged along the East coast, and stretched North to Merseyside and South to Dorset. A single bird was marked at Holme, Norfolk in October, literally just after making landfall, there were good numbers captured and marked across several of our agent sites in November and a few additional birds at the start of December. After that point sites became increasingly problematic with flooding issues, bird flu monitoring concerns and the ever present effect of the pandemic and associated restrictions. 

By the end of January 2021 the situation was as follows. Some agents continued to have sites flooded out or affected by bird flu surveillance and of course we were all still affected by coronavirus restrictions. Sites were becoming so wet that access for monitoring for resightings was even becoming difficult.

Thankfully there were 17 birds ringed up to the end of 2020 and those birds are already out there, with the potential to be observed and reported. This is one of the things that I love about ringing and being a ringer, because the birds are always out there working for you and you can get a good return even though you may not have actually done any ringing for a time.

So, this month our top site (and only site with anything to report) has to be RSPB Lytchett’s field/Lytchett’s bay in Dorset. Four birds were ringed here during November and two of these birds were resighted at Lytchett’s Bay, Poole. We have three sightings from this site with two supported by photographic evidence.

0K was photographed by Robert Fielding on 2nd January and 1K was resighted by the ringer on 3rd January then observed and photographed by Ian Ballham on 15th January. There was another sighting of a colour marked bird at the site on the 31st, but the code could not be made out.

Let’s hope things improve soon and we can connect with more Water Pipits before the end of the season.

Many thanks to all our agents and observers and a special mention to Shaun Robson, the ringing team in Dorset and the birders that consider that area their local patch and are now actively searching for our birds. Thanks to you guys, I have something to report this month!

Take care all and stay safe.