Bird ringing in Britain and Ireland is organised and co-ordinated by the BTO. A network of over 2,500 trained and licensed volunteers currently ring over 900,000 birds every year. In our postings last week, sightings of ringed birds seen on Wallasea were referred to. These birds had been ringed across the river by Burnham farmer Martin Smith.
Aims of ringing on the farm are mixed, Martin has been attempting to ring the majority of swallow pulli (chicks still in the nest), which might produce information on longevity and how many fledged juveniles return to the farm. Barn Owl chicks were also ringed and might be re-trapped at some stage in the future elsewhere. Corn Buntings have received special attention and are the focus of a colour ringing project, part of the aim being to track Corn Bunting movements. Martin has managed to ring about a third of the singing territorial males on the farm and has some data on holding territories. As well as target species, he rings migrants and residents, which gives some indication of species on the farm and those
using his farm’s stewardship features - plenty of Dunnocks, Whitethroat and Reed Bunting use the area planted with wild bird seed mix. This area also held good numbers of wintering thrushes and blackbirds with a control from Sweden in 2008. Away from the farm, Martin’s trainer Chris Harris rings birds on Foulness and we have had some movement from Foulness to Burnham with a pied wagtail born on Foulness, breeding within the farm yard the following year.
Placing a lightweight, uniquely numbered, metal ring around a bird’s leg provides a reliable and harmless method of identifying birds as individuals. Each ring also has an address so that anyone finding a ringed bird can help by reporting where and when it was found and what happened to it. Some ringing projects also use colour rings to allow individual birds to be identified without being caught.
On average only one in every 50 birds ringed are subsequently found and reported, so every report of a ringed bird is of value. More information on bird ringing can be found on the BTO website.
I have had some good feedback on ringed godwits I have seen on Two Tree Island. One Bar-tailed was back in northern France three days after my sighting.
Thanks Bob, I'm always amazed to hear of the travels of these birds. Given the current weather I'd quite like to follow that bird! H