Come and see a demonstration of bird ringing in Freeman’s Marsh.
Wildlife is one of the key aspects of the work of Town & Manor, and year on year we increase our understanding of the wealth of wildlife in the area, and specifically on Freeman’s Marsh, with annual bird monitoring.
This tiny Yellow-browed Warbler is a rare visitor on its way south west from Siberia.
Bird Monitoring on Freeman’s Marsh
We started bird ringing and monitoring in 2011. This helps us establish the number of birds and variety of species visiting the local area. The ringing has been carried out by John Swallow and Jerry Woodham, both qualified and accredited by the British Trust for Ornithology.
In 2012 we added territory mapping, with members of the Berkshire Downs Ringing Group (BDRG), to gain greater insight into the birds visiting or breeding on Freeman’s Marsh.
When is the next bird ringing?
The next BDRG visit will be displayed on Town & Manor notice boards on the north bank of the River Dun, just downstream from the ford and footbridge at the western end of Freeman’s Marsh. While BDRG are not able to work to fixed dates, they will visit one Saturday or Sunday each month between May and August.
How we catch the birds
Almost invisible nets are set between poles to catch birds for ringing and data collection. The nets don’t harm the birds, and are visited frequently with the birds being carefully removed and taken to our nearby ringing base for examination.
If you see a bird caught in a net, please don’t touch the bird or the net, but speak to one of the trained ringers nearby – they’ll be happy to explain the process.
All the ringers involved in the study carry permits issued by the British Trust for Ornithology, on behalf of the government’s Nature Conservation Agencies.
What you can do during this time
Please help the young birds survive in the critical period from 1st March to 31st July by:
- Staying on the footpaths and keeping your dog on a short lead wen walking on land between the river and canal
- Moving away quickly if you see a disturbed or distressed bird
- Encouraging other dog walkers to follow your example
Birds you might spot, that have visited the area
Chinese Swan Geese
Great Spotted Woodpecker
The outstanding bird was an Icterine Warbler caught in June at our CES site near Halfway….this was only the third bird ever caught in Berkshire.
2017 Bird Ringing results
We also caught our first juvenile birds of the season, a Robin and a Long Tailed Tit, both early breeders recently fledged from their nest, and a Reed Warbler from outside our area, which is termed a ‘control’.
Past bird ringing research findings
2015 results – by Jerry Woodham
2015 wasn’t a bad year for bird ringing within our group, we managed to ring just over 5,000 birds, of which 4,430 were new, slightly down on our 2014 figures.
The outstanding bird of the year was an Icterine Warbler, caught in June at our CES site near Halfway. This was only the third bird ever caught in Berkshire.
As far as Hungerford was concerned, all the ringing took place at Harvey’s Meadow with a total of 1,224 birds of 33 species caught, of which 667 were new. This compares with 1,124 caught in 2014, of which 711 were new.
The total number of birds caught in and around Hungerford since November
2012 is now 5,457 of which 3,524 were new. There are some extra birds to add to this figure, which are held on John’s records since ringing started in late 2011. So probably in excess of 6,000 birds ringed and a total of 47 species so far.
It should be noted that the species count could be increased somewhat by targeting specific species, such as Water Rail, Coot, Grey Wagtail, House Martin and Swift. And of course, our habitat in the river valley is very close to the adjacent downland, where we regularly catch numbers of other species such as Yellowhammer, Linnet, Corn Bunting, Fieldfare, Pied and Yellow Wagtails, Lesser Whitethroat and Meadow Pipits, and also regularly see Stonechat, Whinchat and Wheatear on passage.
Below is a list of Hungerford captures by species, with re-traps in brackets, for 2015
Blackbird 41 (26)
Blackcap 84 (19)
Blue Tit 332 (147)
Bullfinch 25 (16)
Cettis Warbler 19 (12)
Chaffinch 28 (9)
Chiffchaff 54 (11)
Coal Tit 26 (15)
Garden Warbler 1
Goldcrest 12 (5)
Goldfinch 57 (3)
Great Tit 97 (67)
Great Spotted Wp 7 (6)
Kestrel 1 (1)
Marsh Tit 16 (13)
Moorhen 1 (1)
Nuthatch 5 (5)
Reed Bunting 3 (1)
Reed Warbler 17 (10)
Robin 68 (36)
Sedge Warbler 11 (2)
Song Thrush 10 (2)
Treecreeper 13 (6)
Willow Warbler 2
Wren 83 (26)
The bird species spotted, 2011-2012
During 2011 and 2012, John and Jerry spotted 97 species from 2789 records and 100 complete lists. Follow this link for their full 2012 end of season report.