Although I have neither the patience nor skill to ring birds, I’m always fascinated by the discoveries that ornithologists make by attaching alloy rings to the legs of birds. My minor contribution is reading colour rings and flags on legs of waterbirds, such as a Curlew I saw recently near Llanfairfechan that had been ringed at RSPB Snettisham, in Norfolk, earlier in the autumn.
The 2022 Ringing Report by the British Trust for Ornithology includes three birds in Wales that are now the oldest in the British and Irish ringing scheme. A House Sparrow in Gwent was recorded in the same village more than 13 years after being ringed there as a nestling in 2008, and Kittiwake returned to Skomer where it was ringed in 1991. On Anglesey, a male Chough was seen 24 years after being ringed as a chick on the island in 1998, and the ringer reports that he’s nested again in 2023. That beats a record set by a Ceredigion bird in 2019 and becomes the oldest passerine (a perching bird) in the BTO database. Indeed, it is the oldest known Chough in Europe, and maybe the oldest passerine in any European ringing scheme.
Meanwhile, a Guillemot on Ynys Gwylan-fawr, off Aberdaron, had been ringed there as a chick 35 years previously, although it needs to be seen again after 2028 to become the oldest on the BTO’s database.
The report also documents movements, some global but others of birds we consider more sedentary. A Collared Dove ringed in Norfolk in 2016 was found in a Bagillt garden; a Barn Owl ringed in Northumberland in 2014 was found near Rhuthun; and a Nightjar that hatched in Denmark in 2021 was in Clocaenog Forest a year later. Most intriguing was a ring found in a bag of compost bought in Aberystwyth that had been attached to a Curlew chick in central Scotland in 2010…
You’ll be able to read more in the Ringing and Nest-recording Report by Lee Barber in the Welsh Bird Report 2022, to be published soon by the Welsh Ornithological Society. And if you find a bird with a ring, please report it to ring.ac and contribute to science.
This week saw a flock of Greenland White-fronted Geese return to the Cefni Valley, where four Cattle Egrets remain at RSPB Cors Ddyga, and 37 Whooper Swans are on Glaslyn Marshes. A Snow Bunting was unusual inland in Penllyn Forest, above Llyn Tegid, which hosted a Common Scoter last week. A Grey Phalarope and Firecrest were reported at Morfa Madryn nature reserve, with Firecrests also at Bangor Cathedral and at Moelfre. Fifteen Jack Snipe were with 250 Snipe at Traeth Coch, and a Long-tailed Duck off Benllech.
Updated on 22 November to include information from Tony Cross that the Chough in the story is the oldest passerine in the BTO ringing database, and may be the oldest ringed passerine in Europe.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.