Social media has its uses!

Social media can be a great tool to help ringing studies. Jan Swan recounts how a recent post on Facebook helped the group identify a new recovery...

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Modi’in Hills, Israel.

Social media has its uses!

Social media can be a great tool to help ringing studies. Jan Swan recounts how a recent post on Facebook helped the group identify a new recovery…

It’s a Friday afternoon. 31 March 2017 to be precise and I’m on the train home and doing what (probably) a lot of people on the train are doing; I’m checking Facebook (FB). Whilst I’m generally not one for postings about day-to-day life I do use it to see what bird sightings there have been and about bird ringing information. Scrolling through posts on a UK Ringers FB group I find a request for ringing information by Yoav Perlman on behalf of a ringing friend of his. He reassured readers that the record would be reported through normal channels too but he wanted to see if anyone had any information he could pass to his friend.

Skimming through the post the details jumped out at me; the bird in question was a Lesser Whitethroat with BTO ring number Z542637. The ring number looked familiar and seemed like one assigned to our group, though given it was a Friday afternoon after a busy day at work I didn’t dare rely on my memory so I posted a message to say I’d check it out and let Yoav know later.

Once home I fired up the computer and was thrilled to find that the bird was in fact a juvenile we had originally caught at our scrub CES site at 0740 on 13 September 2015 and was ringed by Gary Gardiner. At the time of ringing it had a wing length of 70mm, weighed 11.3g and it had completed its post-juvenile moult. It was one of just 28 Lesser Whitethroats we ringed that year and one of 2,370 ringed in the UK that year (BTO Online Ringing Reports1).

An exchange of information then ensued between Yoav, his friend and me. The slightly unusual aspect of this story is that Yoav’s friend, Rafi Paz, was netting in Israel!

The bird was caught at 0800 at Modi’in Hills (see marker on the above map) and was one of 154 Lesser Whitethroats that were ringed, or controlled*, there on 31 March 2017. Rafi recorded that it had a wing length of 71mm, weighed 12.5g and had a fat score of 3 (0-8 scale). A healthy weight and fat reserves for a bird on migration.

To put this recovery into context, as of August 2016 there have only been 11 Lesser Whitethroats ringed in Britain and Ireland which were subsequently recovered in Israel. Conversely eight birds from Israel have been controlled in Britain and Ireland (BTO Online Ringing Reports2).

Whilst it has been established that Lesser Whitethroats prefer this more easterly migration route (they winter in NE Africa), this is Rye Meads’ first recovery of this species from Israel. Our only other two foreign recoveries of Lesser Whitethroat consisted of a bird controlled in Alzano, Lombardo, Italy (979km SE) on 27 September 1966, 17 days after being ringed at Rye Meads, and a bird recovered in Lebanon in 1989 (ca 3510km SE – precise date and location unknown). (Harris & Roper, 2005)

Lesser Whitethroat Z542637. Photo by Rafi Paz at Modi’in Hills, Israel on 31 March 2017.

Prompted by the post on social media, it was great to be in contact with a fellow ringer from another country and help reinforce existing knowledge about this rather ordinary-looking but perhaps over-looked species.

Rafi’s parting comment to me was that he hoped to catch more of the birds ringed at Rye Meads. The feeling is mutual, Rafi!

It would be wonderful, let alone interesting, if Lesser Whitethroat Z542637 were to make a return visit to Rye Meads; perhaps we’ll catch it in the autumn. Here’s hoping…


Further references:

BTO1BTO Online Ringing Report

BTO2BTO Online Ringing Report – Recoveries

The Birds of Rye Meads by Alan Harris and Paul Roper, 2005 – You can buy it here!

*Controls are birds caught which have been ringed elsewhere.

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