RSPB and BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) volunteer Chris duFeu, has been monitoring Beckingham Marshes' tree sparrow population for a few years now. During the breeding season, Chris regularly checks around twenty nest boxes that he installed on site and 'rings' the young birds. Bird ringing involves the application of a small metal ring to a bird's leg. Each ring has an individual code on it and information retreived from recovered birds, can be used to study things such as migration routes, wintering grounds, breeding grounds and productivity. Bird ringers have to be licensed by the government and training can take up to five years.
As Chris has been monitoring the site's population for so long, it gives us a good idea of how successful a particular year has been and whether events such as poor weather, or changes in the habitat management regime, have had any impact . Last year, Chris ringed 134 young tree sparrows, produced by 16 pairs (they are often double, or triple-brooded). This year, despite the very wet spring, Chris has already ringed 107 young and is expecting to ring between 15 and 20 more.
(The above image shows Chris duFeu ringing a tree sparrow nestling at Beckingham Marshes)