Bird Ringing in Surrey

First of all, I'd like to apologise for the lack of posts over the past month or so. Back to school for GCSE year has meant a lot more work than usual.

I realised recently that one thing I haven't discussed on my blog as of yet is bird ringing. In May, I started training as a bird ringer in Surrey. Not only has it been amazing to see birds I had only really seen before hidden in trees or reeds so close in the hand, but it has taught me so much more about British birds than I could ever had thought, and it feels great to be involved in some national science.

Learning how to handle, ring, measure and process birds in the hand has been not only incredibly enjoyable, but really interesting. Learning about fat and muscle, migration patterns, moult and ageing in birds, among other things, has been fascinating. I never realised before just how complex birds and their lives truly are. The methods for ageing birds varies from species to species and is determined through moult phases, feather colour, feather condition and countless other ways. And when its all explained it makes perfect sense. "This bird was born this year, because the tail is pointed and in pristine condition". It's all the little things you wouldn't take into account just birdwatching.

What has also been fascinating is being able to get a true picture of population and numbers on one site. Not only is this an example of some of the key information that bird ringing can provide, it is also great to know just how many individual birds inhabit certain areas. 

For the purpose of this post, I have put together a collection of our best photographs of birds from ringing sessions since May:

Chiffchaff
Willow Warbler (very similar)

Ringing has also been the first time we have been able to get such detailed photographs of birds as well. Never before have we been able to see such a variety of species so close. Being able to see the individual feathers, the feet, the beak and the tail in such detail is something that simply isn't possible when only birdwatching.

Goldcrest

As well as Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, there are many migratory species that pass through the site throughout the summer. Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers were commonly caught:

Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler

And many more species have been caught as well. In total, I have ringed 24 species of bird, which goes to show how much is living in such small areas of countryside.

Nuthatch
Reed Bunting (male)
Female Reed Bunting

And, as winter arrives, Britain's winter migrants will arrive with it. Redpoll and Siskin are beginning to flow in, and Redwing have already arrived, earlier than expected. We caught our first of the year last weekend, and they were amazing to see up close. I definitely didn't appreciate them fully when I watched them in the trees this time last year. When you can see the bird in more detail, they're truly amazing!

Redwing

To finish, I'd like to thank my trainer David for giving me the opportunity to take up bird ringing and for sharing his wealth of knowledge with me.

If you'd like to read more about bird ringing, see the links below:
BTO: Bird Ringing
- BTO: About Ringing 

I hope you've enjoyed reading this post. There'll be more from Surrey coming up over the next couple of months as all the winter visitors start flocking in. The Short-eared Owls have been reported back at Papercourt too - so expect an update on that soon. And as always, thank you for reading!

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