Durham Ring Ouzel Study 2016

The breeding season in 2016 was the most productive experienced for the number of pulli ringed, a total of 57. During 2015-2016, a total of 92 Ring Ouzel pulli have been colour ringed. Unfortunately, this has not resulted in any sightings away from the natal areas. The colour ringing component of the project is due to end this year, with the third and final year (2017) concentrating on searching for these birds in our area. Routine ringing will, though, continue into the foreseeable future as will the completion of nest record cards for the BTO.


Typical ring ouzel nest site in a stream valley with a bank of thick heather

The distribution of nests in the study area remains unchanged, as does the habitat choice for nests. The prime site is on heather covered bank, often beside a stream, but not always. This year a successful nest was found in Juncus sp which was surrounded by water, such that Wellingtons were needed to gain access. Ringing chicks in such a location needs to be done with great care. Ideally chicks would be ringed at c. 7 days old as when they reach c. 10 days their behaviour is less predictable. If this is combined with vocal and aggressive adults settling the pulli back in the nest is likely to be very difficult. If this is judged to be the likely scenario it is best to leave the pulli unringed. Their safety is paramount.

In addition to the ringing based study, Yvonne Townsend has placed a data logger in one nest in order to measure fluctuations in temperature during the incubation and chick rearing stages. This study has been extended to other upland species and should give us more precise information regarding hatching and fledging dates for example. It may also tell us more about behaviour of the adults at the nest and highlight any unusual behaviour, brought about by disturbance or predation.

Once again, trainee ringers were given the opportunity to ring Ring Ouzel pulli and see the challenges associated with finding nests in such an open landscape.

John Strowger
November 2016