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Old Bird

The oldest known Manx Shearwater re-found on Bardsey Island…

The oldest bird known from the British bird-ringing scheme has been re-found on Bardsey Island, off the Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales.The bird was caught by Steve Stansfield, the warden of Bardsey Bird Observatory, on the night of the 22nd April, during routine night-time trapping of shearwaters. The bird was first ringed in mid-May 1957, just one month short of 46 years ago. However, the bird was ringed as an adult and it is known that Manx Shearwaters do not attempt to breed before they are 4-6 years old, which means this bird is at least 50, and in all probability in excess of 52 years old.This bird was re-trapped in 1961 and again in 1978 before making the headlines when it was caught in April last year. This bird is the oldest known from the British ringing scheme (the previous oldest being a Fulmar from Orkney at just over 40 years) and is also one of the oldest known wild birds anywhere in the world - possibly now the oldest, as the Albatross which had reached 50 has not been seen in recent years.The bird was fitted with a new metal BTO ring this year, as the one fitted in 1978 had started to wear out and the number was getting difficult to read - the bird is now on its fourth ring.This bird will have flown to the South Atlantic, off the coast of Brazil or Argentina, every winter for the past 50 or so years, probably averaging around 18-20,000km for each return journey. Even during the breeding season they spend much of their time at sea and it is thought that birds from Bardsey could go as far as the Bay of Biscay on feeding trips when they have a chick to feed. So the miles this bird will have flown and the weather conditions it will have faced are difficult to comprehend.For further information please contact: Bardsey Bird Observatory Warden: Steve Stansfield, Tel: 07855 264151 (he is resident on the island and it can be several days before he has a chance to get to a part of the island where there is a signal for the phone) or Secretary of The Bird Observatories Council: Peter Howlett, Tel: 029 2057 3233, email: peter.howlett@nmgw.ac.uk

4th July 2014