Saturday 23 January 2021

Garden ringing - Danish too

During these times while travel is restricted, garden ringing has been of increased importance. All of the Group with C permits (non restricted)  ring on their own properties. We have had 2 RAS projects, a garden CES as well as sessions primarily used for training..

Alison  has written a short summary of her garden experiences since gaining her C permit.

 I achieved my C permit in late 2019, so 2020 was my first full year of ‘independent‘ ringing, and for obvious reasons, a significant amount has been garden - based.


Initially I wasn’t sure how garden- ringing would pan-out, whether it would be a relentless amount of Blue Tits and very little else. I was however, pleasantly surprised when by end of the year I had processed 730 birds of 25 species , 665 of which were new birds.

Species Name
Grand Total
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Coal Tit

Marsh Tit

House Sparrow
Collared Dove

Song Thrush



Willow Warbler

Great Spotted Woodpecker

House Martin





Grand Total

I caught birds that I had never seen use my garden before, such as Treecreeper, Blackcap and Willow Warbler ( a control from Andys’ site in Carmarthenshire) , and I ringed 3 new species - House Martin, Brambling and Rook.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed garden ringing and look forward to building on the knowledge and results I’ve obtained this year. The one drawback of having mist nets so visible through the window though is that you get to see ‘the one that got away’. Twice I’ve watched a Sparrowhawk bounce out of the net now.........

See link for details and updates on Andy's results with his House Sparrow RAS involving colour-ringing.

A few Starlings have been ringed in Wendy's garden so when one was caught with a ring she was expecting it to be one she had ringed. A big surprise though, it had a ring with the words ZOOL.MUSEUM DENMARK !!

The details have been submitted to the BTO and we await confirmation of news via social media that it was ringed in Skagen on the 25th July 2020. 

 Siskins numbers are increasing in several of our garden sites. As well as new birds there have been a good number of sight faithful returning birds. This one was ringed in Wendy's garden in January 2018 and seen each January since.

A couple of movements of birds from last year that we have just received from the BTO

Goldfinch   APE4200 
Ringed    Tickenham, North Somerset         19/02/2020      Gordano Valley Ringing Group
                Bancyffordd, Carmarthenshire    21/12/2020         306 days 124km WNW 
Sedge Warbler AEK0013 
Ringed   Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion          28/07/2020    
               St Phillippe de Grand Lieu, Loire Atlantique      15/08/2020         18 days 590km SSE

Monday 11 January 2021

House Sparrow project update

With 2020 over, I accessed my House Sparrow data on Demon and found that I ringed 475 new birds during the year. 367 of these birds were identified as birds of the year and 70 were adults/breeders from 2019 or earlier. 38 of the birds were caught post autumn moult and so ageing could not be specific. In addition, a further 14 birds ringed between 2017 and 2019 were also reencountered however this figure is considered light as annual totals for the species in this period were relatively low (2017:28, 2018:124, 2019:49). The resulting number of individuals encountered during 2020 totalled 489.

In mid-October 2020, I began to fit colour rings to all birds. By the 31st of December, 52 rings had been fitted and so the process of sighting and recording began. I contacted all the householders in the village to inform them of the ringing and was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by three interested parties. While looking for colour rings on days when I chose not to ring, I was quite surprised to see numerous individuals that did not have a metal ring fitted and so with a little more effort I might have got to the 500 figure!

The 52 birds colour ringed comprised of 30 new birds and 22 reencounters with 8 of these being individuals from previous years which is probably sufficient to show how difficult it can be to recatch the savvy House Sparrow.

I built several ‘potter’ type traps to avoid mist netting regularly, but these traps have proved completely unsuccessful in respect of House Sparrows. The garden is large enough to allow some randomly positioned nets now and again. As my hens are inside due to avian flu precautions, the robbing Sparrows are not lurking around the chicken hut at feeding time so no point in mist netting the bushes in that area now. Little depressions in the ground in my poly tunnel path tell me that birds are dust bathing so I will have a net up in there one day and possibly catch the culprits. It will not be long before amorous birds are hammering around the garden and catches will increase if I keep plenty of bag in the net.

I use modified circlip pliers to fit the mini darvic rings. Ideally, I would have fitted the rings so that they can be read from the bottom upwards when viewed from the outside. Immediately I found that the direction of coiling meant that I would have to fit the rings to read top downwards to minimise the opening of the ring while maintaining good visual aspect during fitting. This may be partly down to my technique, but you need to work in a safe and comfortable way. To date, I have broken one ring, the first ring, by trying to open it too far. I have found that dropping the rings into warm (not hot) water is enough to relieve the stress in the ring especially when the ambient temperature is low.

Perseverance and luck, may get me at least another 50 birds colour ringed prior to the appearance of any offspring in 2021. With the cold start to 2021, I have not done much ringing and only have two birds to report. Female NF10558 (not colour ringed) was found fresh dead next to my car on the 4th of Jan with a mass of only 22.5g. The bird was ringed on the 23rd of Feb. 2019 and never reencountered. The first colour ring of the year (N53) was fitted to a female first ringed on the 17th of November 2018 and reencountered on the 14th of July 2020. These low encounter rates already contrast to N41, colour ringed on the 6th of December 2020. Originally ringed on the 28th of September 2018, it was reencountered on the 9th of July 2020 and has been sighted five times at two locations since being colour ringed.

Sunday 10 January 2021

Some thoughts for 2021

Plenty to look forward to in this coming year...

Although last year provided various challenges - as a group we ringed 72 species, only a few down on the very good total of 78 in the previous year.

72 species in 2020  .....78 species in 2019

The difference in the variety of species had no impact on numbers ringed as you can see from the species ringed in 2019 but not in 2020

....Yellowhammer, Yellow Wagtail, Yellow-browed Warbler, Leach's Petrel, Chough, Mallard, Oystercatcher, Water Rail and Wheatear.

The number of new birds ringed was very similar with....

 7342 new birds ringed in 2020  .. 7493 new birds ringed in 2019

The numbers of certain species reflect the effort at ringing sites due to movement restrictions as we focused more on "home locations"

Obvious examples ...Blackcaps down from 406 to 147,  Chiffchaff down from 426 to 169

Species ringed at  " home locations" show many increases, some of these increases are due to  special effort eg  House Sparrows up from 120 to 736 - helped by Andy's new colour-ring project (see below)

Moorhen - only 1 each in each year, an amazingly low number as they wander the rides on the Marsh  past our potter traps. 


Wagtails  - we caught Pied but we missed out totally on White Wagtails in 2020 - and Yellow Wagtail.

 Redwing with  213 in 2020, 85 in 2019 -  we can easily catch these migrant Thrushes at our home locations

Our lamping activities were affected, with only 56 Woodcock ringed  - 94 in 2019 and consequently less Golden Plover and Fieldfare.


 Movements of  birds reported to us in 2020

Details have been noted in blogs during the year and are listed on the Controls and Recoveries page

Highlights include....

A Blackbird to Sweden

The same Storm Petrel to Bardsey, Wooltack Point and Porth Iago

Goldfinch to N Ireland

Great Tit to Warrington

Woodcock to Russia and one of our own Woodcock ringed in 2017 caught in the adjacent field in Boncath.


House Sparrow colour ringing and RAS project

See Andy's previous post House Sparrows- colour ringing commences

Reed Bunting colour ringing and RAS project

This RAS project is now entering it's 8th year. During last year we only colour-ringed 45 birds (in 2019 146 birds, in 2018 110 birds)

A Reed Bunting ringed in 2012 as an adult was resighted in 2020, so now 8+ years old.

Arfon has just set up a Willow Tit RAS based around Tregaron - more from Arfon during the season.


New sites

An interesting new site in an upland plantation in the Preseli hills where we plan a migration monitoring study with particular emphasis on Warblers.

 Alison is setting up a site in a small woodland near Mynachlogddu managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales which will complement our other sites adding different habitat.

Garden CES 

A chance to take part in a new BTO garden ringing project was welcomed enthusiastically. Starting at a time when we were all having to stay at home, two sites were set up that individuals could run alone on their own land. Both were successful with a good number of birds caught. The site at Llechryd in South Ceredigion will be continued next year.


415 birds of 20 species in the 12 standard sessions.

Some final notes as we enter the 14th year of the Teifi RG

The Group AGM will be via ZOOM in late January / early February...agenda items to Wendy asap.

The WhatsApp messaging seems to be working well....?

If other Group members could write posts and updates on their ringing activities, it would be helpful to everyone. 

Wendy J and Rich D