Ring Ouzel Darvic Ring re-sightings 2016 – 2019 in NW Durham

During 2015 and 2016 approximately ninety pulli were ringed with Darvic rings at nest sites in Weardale and Teesdale. This represents 15% of the total ringed nationally (Britain & Ireland) during 2015 – 2016. Ringing with BTO metal rings has continued during 2017 & 2018 the total being 18 pulli most of which were in that part of the study area south of the River Wear. No attempt has been made to trap adults.

This report focuses on the fate of the 25 pulli (in eight broods) ringed to the south of the River Wear in 2015 & 2016 but will also include sightings elsewhere in the country which are pertinent.

The remains of two juvenile ouzels were found separately, high on the fell, by the Head Keeper and the rings were retrieved. They were approximately 3 and 7 km from their natal site and may have dispersed to higher ground before, presumably, being predated during the summer. (Studies in Scotland have shown a very high attrition rate during the fledging period.)

A further brood of two pulli was predated the night after they were ringed on Day 7. Nest temperature recording using a data logger shows a rapid fall in nest temperature to ambient levels at 01.25 hours. The nest rim was pulled out and a stoat spraint was nearby.

A male ouzel ringed as a pullus at a site south of the river was recorded photographically two years later, 6 km further north where it raised two broods.

Another male ouzel, again ringed as a pullus, returned to within 100m of its natal site two years later to breed. Unfortunately its partner was presumably predated when the nestlings were a few days old – the logger trace records their slow demise. It is believed that this male found a new partner in an adjacent gill but then returned to the original site later in the season where it was photographed and identified.

An unidentified male with an orange ring was sighted 45 km further south in the Yorkshire Dales where it was believed to have raised two broods.

Another unidentified male, again with an orange ring, was photographed in June midway between the principal breeding areas. Unfortunately the resolution of the image was insufficient to read the characters.

Finally a male ringed north of the river was photographed in Newport, S. Wales on 24th March 2018. This sighting adds evidence for some ouzels returning via a westerly route in the UK. Unfortunately attempts to re-sight it with certainty near to its origin were unsuccessful.

One other female ouzel with a full compliment of colour rings is reported to have bred in Weardale. She had been ringed as a pullus in the preceding year 264 km further north in the Cairngorms. This is one of the greatest breeding translocations recorded in the UK.

In summary out of 25 ringed pulli:

  • the demise of four pulli has been recorded within the study area
  • one male returned to its natal site to breed
  • another male moved 6 km to breed
  • a third male relocated 45 km to the south, again to breed
  • and a male was recorded, presumably whilst on passage, in South Wales.

There was one other sighting in the study area but it was not possible to identify the individual bird.

In addition a female ouzel was identified breeding in the study area which had originated in Scotland some 264 km away.

Future proposal

Obtaining satisfactory images for identification was quite challenging and the use of two colour-ring combinations should provide rather more data, more easily and therefore with less disturbance to the ouzels during re-sighting.

The BTO has approved our proposal to use a combination of two colour rings on the right leg in addition to a metal ring on the left leg during 2019 to 2021. This ringing project will complement other colour-ringing schemes in Ring Ouzels elsewhere, notably in Scotland.

Ring Ouzel numbers, and breeding attempts which included only a single second brood, were well down in 2019; consequently the pulli of only one brood were colour ringed. The number of breeding pairs in a well-monitored site on the North Yorks. Moors was also the lowest in twenty years.

We would be grateful if any sightings could be sent as early as possible to James Anderson (james.anderson.49@btinternet.com) so that they can be followed up with a minimum of delay.

Yvonne Townsend, BTO Ringer
James Anderson, BTO Nest Recorder