Put a ring on it | Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Put a ring on it

Thursday, 20th June 2024

Put a ring on it
Little Owl

By Phil Jones

Volunteer for Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Bird ringing caught my imagination from an early age. I had volunteered at the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss and helped the ringers there. I enjoyed the new experience of seeing birds at very close quarters and have been ringing ever since. 

Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler © David King

In the UK, bird ringing is administered by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). It provides valuable information on bird movements and helps scientists look at the health of the UK bird populations. By capturing birds we get a fascinating insight into their productivity and survival rates.

The ring itself is amazingly light, typically around 0.5% of a bird's typical weight, and features a letter/number combination that is unique to each ring. Novices are trained by an experienced bird ringer for up to three years before they can go solo. This is because the bird’s welfare is of the utmost importance. They also need be able to identify what they catch and know how to age and sex the bird accurately. Birds are typically caught using fine, light nets.

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting © David King

At Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, our rangers and volunteers are always looking out for birds with rings. Last year, as we were checking the Sandwich Tern colony at Ternery Pool, we found birds that had been ringed in Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK. Other sightings include Dutch Oystercatcher and Spoonbill, a Little Tern from Belgium and a French ringed Avocet.

This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website

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