A review of ringing in 2021
Jan Swan reports:
In 2021 we ringed a total of 1,775 new birds, which is a decrease of just over 100 from 2020, just under 50% of the long-term average and the second-lowest total in the group’s 62 years of operation. A total of 54 species were ringed: a decrease of two from 2020, just over 80% of the long-term average and joint fourth-lowest with 2011. A bad breeding season for many species combined with the ongoing lack of access to the Thames Water site and the continuing restriction on the number of people allowed on site for much of the year has once again clearly had an impact on our activities and ringing figures (see the table below).
As perhaps expected, with access to only one duck trap during most of the year, the number of waterfowl ringed is once again low and only Mallard and Teal made it onto the ringing list. However, our new duck trap on No. 3 Lagoon is starting to produce the goods as three of the four Mallard ringed were caught there.
Once again, the number of Jack Snipe ringed was in double figures and was only one away from matching the current high of 15. Unfortunately, conditions in the meadows weren’t favourable for netting the number of Snipe we’re accustomed to and only three were caught and ringed. The Common Sandpiper ringed was our first for five years and Tawny Owl made it back onto the ringing list after one blank year. Species we would normally expect to ring but missed out on were Sand Martin and Swallow, due to the absence of any major roosts. House Martin was also absent for the third year in a row.
Continuing its bid to overtake Sedge Warbler as the group’s top-ringed species, and despite a 44% drop from the previous year, Reed Warbler once again was our most-ringed species this year with 286. Its average year on year increase between 1960 and 2021 is now 1%, whereas Sedge Warbler is -4%.
The remaining top four ringing total spots go to Blue Tit in second place (193), Chiffchaff in third (188), Black-headed Gull in fourth (185) and Sedge Warbler in fifth (153).
The highlight from the period was undoubtedly the two Rock Pipits caught in a mist net in the first meadow; our third and fourth for this species with the last two having been ringed in 1969 and 1978.
We managed all bar one of the North CES visits this year with figures similar to last year, which confirms how bad this year has been as we only carried out the latter half of the sessions in 2020. We were unable to carry out any visits to our South CES site for the second year running due to access restrictions.
In terms of recoveries, our Black-headed Gull pulli ringing is reaping some rewards with birds to Cambridgeshire and Worcestershire, three to London and the home counties, and two of this years’ birds venturing a bit further afield to Pembrokeshire and Cornwall. Two Cetti’s Warblers have moved from our site: one unfortunately ‘fell from the air’ and was pronounced dead in Oxfordshire and the other was controlled a couple of times at Foulness in Essex. We’ve also had a Blackcap controlled in Berkshire, the usual Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler recoveries in Hertfordshire and the south of England plus France and Portugal, and a Reed Bunting was controlled in Greater Manchester.
As for controls, birds which were ringed elsewhere and re-caught or re-sighted, mainly via colour rings at Rye Meads, there have been the usual Mute Swans from Essex and Hertfordshire, Black-headed Gulls from Gloucestershire (our first control from that county), London, Aberdeenshire, Essex, and a previously reported bird from Croatia. Additionally, there were Reed Warblers from Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, France, and Belgium, and a Lesser Redpoll from Derbyshire, our first ever control from that county.
Looking forward to 2022, thankfully we should shortly be regaining access to part of the Thames Water site, which will increase our netting and duck trapping options, plus we’ll be able to run the south CES again. Since shortly before the pandemic started, we’ve also had a glut of enquiries from potential trainees, whom we’re now excited to be able to invite down to see what it’s all about. You never know, we may be about to meet some of the next generation of regulars who’ll carry on the baton of our long-standing group and run with it for the next 60-odd years.… here’s hoping!
|Mallard||2,174||1||4||2,179||Second lowest after last year since 1968|
|Great Crested Grebe||17||17|
|Little Ringed Plover||212||212|
|Jack Snipe||114||10||14||138||One short of our record year of 2018|
|Common Tern||2,692||7||1||2,700||The worst year for the colony since it started in 1971|
|Tawny Owl||22||3||25||Equals our best year|
|Kingfisher||1,411||10||8||1,429||Lowest total since 1966|
|Lesser Spotted Woodpecker||28||28|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||171||2||1||174||Lowest total since 1989|
|Green Woodpecker||98||98||Second blank year in a row, last happened 1986-7|
|Great Grey Shrike||2||2|
|Sand Martin||7,358||25||7,383||First blank year for nine years|
|Swallow||6,638||31||6,669||First blank year for ten years|
|Cetti's Warbler||461||45||45||551||As last year, a total we've only beaten four times|
|Willow Warbler||8,755||16||4||8,775||Lowest total since 1961|
|Sedge Warbler||24,401||267||153||24,821||Lowest total since 1961|
|Reed Warbler||18,065||411||286||18,762||Lowest total since 2003|
|Garden Warbler||3,504||11||8||3,523||Lowest total since 1972|
|Lesser Whitethroat||2,847||1||4||2,852||Just the third single figure total since 1967|
|Whitethroat||5,249||35||43||5,327||Second lowest for 29 years|
|Goldcrest||963||8||6||977||Lowest total for 30 years|
|Wren||6,845||52||61||6,958||After last year, lowest total since 1966|
|Blackbird||7,943||22||27||7,992||Second lowest after last year in our 62 years|
|Redwing||1,073||41||4||1,118||Our best since 2003 and eighth best in 61 years|
|Song Thrush||4,693||7||13||4,713||Second lowest after last year in our 62 years|
|Robin||3,987||45||32||4,064||Lowest total since 1960|
|Dunnock||7,831||20||51||7,902||Second lowest after last year since 1961|
|Water Pipit||40||2||42||The fifth and sixth birds this millennium|
|Rock Pipit||2||2||4||Our third and fourth birds ringed|
|Chaffinch||3,595||1||2||3,598||Second lowest after last year since 1960|
|Bullfinch||3,240||3||3,243||Second lowest after last year since 1960|
|Greenfinch||11,227||11,227||This and last year the only two blanks in our 62 years|
|Number of species||141||56||54||141|