Look out for colour-ringed plovers


Researchers in mid-Wales are asking for help in surveying wintering flocks of Golden Plover. This beautiful bird nests in declining numbers in the Welsh uplands but in the winter the local population is augmented by large flocks of birds arriving from the continent, and groups of several hundred birds can regularly be seen across the mid-Wales uplands. A study of these flocks is underway, which includes marking individual birds with coloured rings on the right leg. In order to understand the habitat the birds need and the size of area the mobile flocks cover, we need to get as many sightings of the ringed birds as possible.

Mick Green, of research group Ecology Matters, said: "We are asking the public to let us know as soon as possible of any sightings of flocks of Golden Plover in Radnorshire or Montgomeryshire so that we can plot movements around the counties. If they are able to see any rings on the birds then please give us details of these as well. Sightings can be reported to plovers@ecologymatters.co.uk or to 01970 832491. Please provide a grid reference, date, approximate size of flock and if any ringed birds were seen."

Colour-ringed Golden Plover (Tony Cross).

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In addition two birds will be fitted with satellite tags later in the autumn, which will give daily updates of the bird's movements. Details of these birds' progress will be regularly updated on www.ecologymatters.co.uk/news.

Tony Cross of Ecology Matters added: "The colour-ringing of birds allow us to identify individuals and follow their movements. It also allows us to look at the turnover of individuals within flocks. This will help us to identify and help to conserve the most important feeding areas. Birds are ringed with a white ring (with a letter/number/number code engraved on it, and readable with a telescope) above the knee, and a red ring above a metal ring from the national ringing scheme below the knee, all on the right leg of the bird. Any sightings of ringed birds across Wales will be gratefully received."

Since January 1st 2012 over 200 birds have been colour-ringed so there is a very good chance of spotting one.

Written by: Mick Green & Tony Cross