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Successful bird ringing season

15 Sep 2017

Kingfishers are king of the Wensum Valley


Once again seasonal ringing was carried out at Pensthorpe Natural Park by the Norfolk Ornithologists Association (NOA) as part of the British Trust for Ornithology’s long-term study on breeding success and survival rates of the UKs birds.

This was the twelfth consecutive year the study, known as the Constant Effort Site (CES) scheme, has taken place at Pensthorpe, which is one of only eight sites in Norfolk and one of 130 in the country.

The study involves the erection of mist nets in pre-determined areas, for a specific time in pre-arranged date periods. Birds caught generally through the season at Pensthorpe are largely reed and wet scrub dwelling species, which is a reflection on the habitat.  The typical species include Reed and Sedge Warbler and, over the past couple of years, Cetti’s Warbler. The latter, whilst a warbler species, is largely resident and prone to population fluctuations depending on winter weather conditions.

There were several surprises this year with above average numbers of Greenfinch caught, which is encouraging following the species alarming decline caused by the parasite borne disease Tricomonosis.

The main highlight this year, from a numbers and ringing perspective, was most certainly the number of Kingfishers caught during the season, with ten different birds caught and ringed. Nine of the ten birds caught were juveniles, which would imply good breeding success for the species locally.

This year Pensthorpe Natural Park’s Avicultural Intern, Emma Buck, has been helping out with the ringing on her days off. Coming to Pensthorpe as this year’s Corncrake Nanny, Emma has been learning the ropes from Gary Elton, a fully qualified bird ringer (A Ringer) who carries out all of the bird ringing at Pensthorpe, including the ringing of the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust’s Corncrakes. She says: “Ringing at Pensthorpe has been really interesting as it can give us a snapshot of the health of the Wensum Valley and can help with conservation techniques. What started as a hobby is quickly evolving into a career for me and I have worked on ringing projects in Canada and Germany.”

This year’s success has been a great eye opener for Emma, spurring her on to develop her career: “Highlights for me were the large volume of warblers who travel amazing distances from Africa to breed in the UK. Another great moment was ringing a gorgeous Oystercatcher chick that I found as an egg, I watched it grow to the stage where it was big enough to ring and then saw it mature into a lovely juvenile when it had all of its flight feathers and disappeared off with its parents, who knows where it will be re-sighted?”