Monday, 31 October 2011

Ring Reading for Rewarding Recoveries!

Due to improvements in technology in cameras and optics more and more ring re-sightings are being reported from members of the public. It is through re-sightings such as these that we are able to find out so much about birds and it provides key information about as revealing their movements. Ring reading is therefore a very important and rewarding hobby and so I decided to give it a go.

Although it can be difficult at times to read rings, especially the standard metal rings, it is so satisfying when you manage to read them and send the information in. The wait to hear back from the relevant sources is quite exiting and the information that comes back is very interesting and rewarding. So far I have read a variety of rings from different species and below I have included a few particularly fascinating recoveries.

I first met this Mute swan at Gartmorn Dam, Alloa when I first read his Darvic - LYC. 3 weeks later whilst hand feeding the resident male Goosander at uni I spotted a Darviced mute swan amongst the resident swans, none of which hold rings. I read the Darvic LYC and instantly this sparked in my mind and I knew that I had seen this swan before. As soon as I got back to my computer I looked through my photos and sure enough there was LYC at Gartmorn Dam 3 weeks previously.

LYC at Stirling University

So I reported the sightings to Allan Brown who got back to me the same day and told the very interesting life story of LYC. LYC was ringed as a cygnet in St. Andrews in August 2010 and re-sighted on the Eden estuary in September 2010 before being seen on the river Tay in November/December 2010. LYC had not been seen again since my sightings, which just goes to show how important it is to report any ringed birds to Without members of the public reporting these ring re-sightings stories such as the one of LYC would never be told and who knows where LYC will end up next on his adventures, only time and reporting will tell!

LYC at Gartmorn Dam


Upon my first trip to Gartmorn Dam I found a Darviced Black-headed Gull but unfortunately it would not come close enough to allow me to read it. With a lot of persistence (and bread) eventually on my third visit I could get close enough to the gull in order to read it, VK29. I was excited as I knew that it was not British. After getting back home I jumped straight online and onto  (where all colour rings can be reported) and looked up the colour/combination of the Darvic and I soon found out that this bird had come all the way from Denmark - approximately 1,000km or 620miles!  It's amazing to think that any bird you see could come from such places, so get ring reading and who knows maybe your local gull colony may hold a foreign visitor too!

VK29 at Gartmorn Dam

It's a Coot!

Of course no blog post would be complete without a mention of a Coot! On my last visit to check on my beloved Coots at Linlithgow Loch, West Lothian I was able to read the metal ring of a Coot. This was my first full metal ring reading and so I was quite happy even before getting the recovery information back from its' ringer, Mark Cubitt. It turned out that Mark ringed this Coot at Linlithgow in 2006, making this little Coot at least 5 years old who is either a resident at Linlithgow or a winter visitor. Whilst at the loch I also observed a metal ringed Black-headed gull but unfortunately as the ring was upside down and the gull would not stay in any one place for longer than a couple of seconds I could not read the full number - a future challenge for sure!

GN92445 at Linlithgow Loch

Ring reading is now a definite hobby of mine and I would recommend anyone to take it up as it is very satisfying and worthwhile. Thanks goes to the BTO, Allan Brown and Mark Cubitt for providing the recovery information.

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