Here’s details about the colour-ringed dipper I saw at Loxley Fisheries on Saturday. It really pays to report ringed birds to the BTO, as they’ll put you in touch with the right people, and you can get some great information about individual birds.
This reply is from Dr Stuart Sharp, who now works in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge – it seems my dipper hadn’t gone very far at all, being ringed just up the road in Dungworth!
Many thanks for taking the time to send in your observation of a colour-ringed Dipper. Colour ringing projects rely heavily on sightings like this, and even incomplete information can prove to be invaluable.
The bird that you reported was actually ringed very close to where you saw it – at SK287903 on 20.10.07. The combination is actually red over white on the left and pale blue over metal on the right. The metal BTO rings are often mistaken for white rings, especially in bright sunshine. It was ringed as an adult with a wing length of 92mm and a mass of 52.9g. The vast majority of Dippers can be sexed according to biometrics, but sadly this is one of very few that I could not be 100% sure of, though it is probably a female. It will almost certainly breed on the Loxley, so soon we will be able to confirm this from behavioural observation.
It may not seem hugely exciting that this bird hasn’t moved very far, but in fact this is just as important to know about as longer distance movements. The bird was colour-ringed as part of a project that I set up based at the University of Sheffield a couple of years ago. Although I have since moved, the Dipper project goes on and in fact is currently expanding. The core study areas are the Rivelin, Don and Loxley, but please look out for colour-ringed Dippers anywhere in South Yorkshire or the Peak District. The initial aim was to study dispersal patterns in this species, but we are also currently investigating its use of urban waterways.
Many thanks again for the sighting, and please check any Dippers that you see in the area for colour rings. At the moment, all birds have three colours – two on the left leg and one over the metal on the right leg.
Another quick update – I’ve seen yet another ladybird in my living room on Sunday night. This time it was a native 2-spot rather than a harlequin – here’s hoping the harlequins don’t eat it!