More from Tanji Bird Reserve and welcome back to ringed lesser black-backed gulls

Colour and number ringing of birds to enable identification of individuals in the field, without capture, has become an increasingly common way of gaining knowledge  of bird movement, survival and population size. It also adds a fun extra dimension to birding, as you can not only identify your species, but find out where it was first ringed and the history of its  movements. Magnified digital photographs or careful reading of  numbers with a  telescope are however usually a requirement, so it is not a cheap hobby. Rings use  combinations of numbers, letters, colours and a choice of which leg and in some species where on the leg to provide an individual identifier.

On our web site we list some of the regularly occurring migrant species in Senegal that have such individually marked birds. One is lesser black backed gull, which winters in thousands or probably tens of thousands along the coast. Birds come  to West Africa from a  number of different populations.

We do not yet have any sightings to report from Senegal, but in the Gambia Clive Barlow has  been  reading rings of returning birds at Tanji Bird Reserve, where numbers are building up. Last week N348 from Spain, ringed there on 13 June 2007 and first observed in the Gambia on 8 Decemebr 2007, was seen again at Tanji. Today J2H8 from Norway, ringed there on 7 July 2007 and first seen at Tanji on 1 December 2007, reappeared.  More sightings  to follow.

Also at Tanji subalpine warblers are now frequent, some singing sub-song and the first returning melodious warbler (in full song) was recorded today. Also today, Clive had  his first ever sighting for Tanji of Ahanta francolin, a forest rarity confined in our area to Casamance forests  and a small number of coastal forest in the Gambia.

Paul

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