In spring, 18 days were spent ringing migrants in April and early May. During 12 days in late May and beginning of June, there was more ringing of migrants, as well as some work on Manx Shearwaters and Wheatears. After some shearwater tracking work in mid August, chicks and adults were ringed during 17 days from late August to mid September. Small numbers of migrants were also ringed at this time, with the main autumn migrant work taking place for a week in late September and three weeks in October.
The total number of birds ringed in the year was 4,339. This is the second-highest year-total for Lundy. In April, a significant landmark was achieved when the grand total of birds ringed on Lundy reached 100,000. Among the 56 species of 2012, Swallows were caught in particularly large numbers in both spring and autumn, with their total reaching 1189. Other notable totals for migrants include 721 Blackcaps, 549 Willow Warblers, 227 Chiffchaffs, 303 Goldcrests and 320 Meadow Pipits.
The increase in Manx Shearwaters continued, with 252 chicks and 53 adults ringed. Two Storm Petrels were also caught in late spring. There were hints that they might be breeders, as both had brood-patches and one was recaptured four nights after ringing. So there is hope that, like the shearwaters, they are benefiting from the eradication of rats. However, as well as breeding in burrows and only visiting them at night, Storm Petrels pose the additional challenge that they are much smaller than shearwaters. So they are even harder to study.
Lundy's breeding population of Wheatears has been doing well in the last few years, in spite of their listing as a Species of Conservation Concern for the UK as a whole. Nesting in burrows and crevices, they have probably been incidental beneficiaries of rat eradication on Lundy. The 41 Wheatears ringed, compared with a total of 30 over the previous ten years, partly reflect this increase but are also the result of a targeted effort to find out more about them.
Another species with an exceptionally high total was Swift: seven were ringed in spring, with only six caught on Lundy in the previous 65 years. Also unusual were a Merlin, two Melodious Warblers, two Subalpine Warblers (both caught on the same day), seven Yellow-browed Warblers (with five caught on one day), a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a Golden Oriole and a Common Rosefinch. A full list of the year's ringing totals is given below.
Recoveries and controls for 2012 include a Lesser Black-backed Gull seen in southeast Ireland in winter. This contrasts with all previous records of Lundy birds, which have been in southwest France, Iberia and beyond. A Redwing and a Chaffinch, ringed on Lundy as late autumn migrants, were recaptured by ringers in Finland and Norway respectively, where they would have been on or en route to their breeding grounds. Other birds that were clearly migrating were a Chiffchaff arriving from The Netherlands after twelve days, a Blackcap from Lands End in four days and a Swallow to southwest Portugal in 26 days. Remarkably, this is the first British-ringed Swallow ever found in Portugal: their standard migration route follows the east coast of Spain. Details of these and other recoveries are listed below.
Another notable movement, albeit on a much smaller scale, involved one of the House Sparrows colour-ringed on Lundy by the University of Sheffield. A female, hatched on 3.5.11 and ringed as a nestling, was seen in Hartland, Devon, on 27.2.12. It was thought to have been there for about two weeks before the record was confirmed.
Number ringed in 2012
|Manx Shearwater||(252) 305|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||2|
|Total number of birds ringed||4,339|
|Total number of species ringed
Numbers in brackets indicate pulli – i.e. chicks/nestlings – ringed in 2012. The number of pulli is included in the main total for each species.
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