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2020 Keyhaven bird-ringing report

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Marcus writes:

This has been our fifth year of bird-ringing at Lymington-Keyhaven Marshes, with the main focus being at Keyhaven. Net rides were also established at Normandy Farm where a small number of sessions were conducted. Despite limited ringing through April and May, due to COVID-19 restrictions, activity resumed through the autumn migration season between mid-July and late October, when ringing was conducted on a near weekly basis. A good total of 1882 birds of 47 species were caught and ringed (see Table 1) over 36 sessions at Keyhaven and six sessions at Normandy.

A winter CES (Constant Effort Site) was established at Normandy Farm as part of a BTO pilot, however COVID-19 restrictions and poor weather meant that only two sessions were completed. Throughout the year COVID-19 regulations where strictly adhered to and social distancing maintained at all sessions.

Yellow-browed Warbler ringed at Keyhaven on 09 Oct 2020

Observations and key species

As with previous years, a diverse variety of species was recorded. Effort during the peak autumn passage period was slightly more focussed than in previous years, largely thanks to good weather and having a larger team.

Notable records included good totals of common passage migrants, such as Blackcap (351), Common Whitethroat (118), Lesser Whitethroat (21) and Chiffchaff (286). Significant totals were also achieved for House Martin, largely down to a remarkable catch of over 100 in a period of less than an hour on 11 September, and Lesser Redpoll, with a total of 118 (including two controls from Nottinghamshire and Northumberland); a significant passage of Lesser Redpoll was recorded across the whole of the UK, believed to be the result of a particularly successful breeding season.

Of the scarcer breeding species on site, Nightjar bred for the third year running with at least two, possibly three pairs. Four juvenile Nightjar were caught and ringed, confirming at least two broods fledged, while an adult male that was re-trapped was originally ringed on 07 August 2018, confirming site fidelity.

Linnets were again the focus of a colour-ringing project, although the core spring period for ringing breeding adult and freshly fledged juvenile Linnet was missed due to COVID-19 restrictions. As with previous years, just a small number of colour-ring observations were made through the winter period, relating to a couple of individuals, with sightings increasing from early March - this suggests that most of the breeding population leaves the area through the winter. The most notable observation was of a Linnet colour-ringed as a juvenile male on 21 July 2019 at Iley Point that was re-sighted at Setley Pond paired with a female on 11 April 2020 showing territorial behaviour. In addition, a female colour-ringed as a juvenile on 05 July 2019 was observed collecting nesting material with an adult male on watch on the south side of Normandy Lagoon on 14 June 2020. Overall, 22 Linnets ringed over the previous two years were observed during the breeding season, all bar the two mentioned above on Keyhaven Marsh.

Scarce migrants caught and ringed included a Yellow-browed Warbler on 09 October, while a Northern Wheatear caught on 27 August was a first for the site; other ringing firsts for the site included House Sparrow (long overdue) and Fieldfare. Additional highlights included good totals of four Redstart and nine Firecrest.

In addition, a pilot winter CES (Constant Effort Site) was established at Normandy Farm; however, our efforts were hampered by poor weather and the CES was cancelled in early January 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. We hope to repeat the winter CES again in 2021-22.

We are grateful to Nigel Jones for assessing Andrew Colenutt at Keyhaven to enable him to progress to his C permit. It was also good to assess Ed Bennett at Keyhaven, who also progressed from T to C permit.

Lesser Redpoll, part of a large influx into southern England

Ringing recoveries


Thanks to Pete Durnell and Simon Curson for arranging access and providing the relevant permissions, in addition to Julian Sheppard and his team for maintaining the rides. Also, thanks to the ringing team, Andrew Colenutt (C), Helen Schneider (T), Georgie Digby (T), Richard Reeves (T) and Jamie Ward, plus ringers and trainees that joined us on site throughout the year.

Marcus, Andrew, Helen, Georgie, Richard & Jamie

Jan 2021

Colour-ringed Linnet and metal-ringed Dartford Warbler at Iley Point, Keyhaven

Appendix 1.

2020 ringing totals from Iley Point, Keyhaven Marsh

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