We asked Pete Dwyer to write about the bird ringing he is undertaking at the reserve (why and how?)
There is a need to monitor bird populations over time in order to conserve them effectively. We need to know whether numbers are stable or changing. Are they decreasing or increasing? If there is a change in numbers, particularly a decrease, we need to know why. Targeted Conservation can then be brought into action.
Constant Effort methodology, pioneered in the UK by the British Trust for Ornithology nearly 40 years ago, is now used worldwide. This uses, as the name may suggest, year on year catches from standardised mist-netting by Licensed Ornithologists to observe and check key aspects of the demography of 24 common breeding songbirds being monitored throughout the breeding season, with twelve standardised visits between May and August. Nets are placed in the same location over the same length of time during each visit. Changes in the total number of adults caught provide a measure of changing population size, whilst the proportion of young birds caught forms an indication of breeding success. Subsequent sightings of adult birds ringed in previous years can also be used to estimate annual survival rates.
A Pilot Project of 12 visits began this Spring on the reserve. Prior to the Project we were already aware that at least one Reed Warbler had returned to Foxearth Meadows to breed between 2017 and 2018.
Of the 24 songbird species being monitored, 14 have already been ringed as part of the Project, namely Song Thrush (on Red-list of Birds of Conservation Concern), Dunnock, Reed Bunting (both birds on the Amber-list of BOCC), Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long Tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper, Wren, Robin, Blackbird.
Pete has often been assisted by Tom or Rod. Thank you all for your careful work.