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Glen Clunie Ring Ouzel Breeding Ecology Project

Summary of Results 1998-2004

Part 5

Chick colour ringing

In 1998-2002, all chicks were fitted with a single colour ring to denote place and year of ringing. However, we individually colour ringed all chicks in 2003 and 2004, to allow us to record precisely which individuals return. Over the seven years of the project, 1043 colour-ringed chicks have fledged. Return rates have varied from 6.8% (1998 cohort) to 3.2% (2003 cohort) (Fig. 8). The overall mean for the 1998-2003 cohorts was 4.7%, which was similar to means of 3.3% and 5.0% found in The Moorfoot Hills and Glen Esk respectively (Burfield 2002).
In 2001, three female chicks ringed in Glen Clunie in previous years were seen approximately 30km to the east, in Glen Esk, Tayside, where a long-term Ring Ouzel study continues (Arthur & White 2001). Chicks ringed in 1999 and 2000 were seen breeding, but could not be caught to establish precisely which individuals were involved. However, a 2000 female was trapped at her nest, allowing individual identification. These three recoveries are believed to be the first confirmed movements between natal and breeding area for this species. In May 2002, a Glen Clunie chick ringed in 2001 was found dead in Glen Ey, 6km to the west. This is a glen that is known to hold good numbers of breeding Ring Ouzels. Finally, a female chick ringed about 2km outside the study area in 2002 moved 11km to breed inside the study area in 2003.

Adult colour ringing

We individually colour-ringed 153 breeding adults between 1999 and 2004. Return rates ranged from 41% in 2001 to 52% in 2004, with a mean of 47% (Fig. 9). These return rates are considerably higher than the means of 30% and 24% found in the Moorfoot Hills and Glen Esk respectively (Burfield 2002). No adults, ringed as breeders in Glen Clunie, have been recovered outside the glen.

Predation of fledged birds

We are beginning to build a picture of the main predators of fledged birds. An adult male was seen predated by a Peregrine, and the rings of a fledged chick were found in a Peregrine nest in 2002. Sparrowhawks have been seen predating two fledged chicks, and attempting to catch an adult female. In 2003, rings from two chicks and an adult female, were found at a Sparrowhawk nest near the centre of the study area. The rings from an adult female were found in a Kestrel nest in 2001, and in 2004 a Common Buzzard was seen to predate a brood of chicks close to fledging. Merlins are also present in the glen and breed nearby, but we have no evidence that they have predated ringed Ring Ouzels despite annual searches of their plucking and perching places.


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