Sunday, 27 November 2016

Colour-ringed Choughs in Wales: how and what re-sighting data to report


Colour-ringing of chough has been undertaken by Tony Cross and Adrienne Stratford in mid and north Wales for over 25 years. Recently this effort has been extended to Gower and to Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire by Mike Shewring (Cardiff RG) and Chris Jones (Teifi RG) respectively. Prior to 2006 chough in both Pembrokeshire and Gower were colour-ringed by Bob Haycock.

As a result of the project over 5,000 choughs have been colour-ringed, and approximately 30,000 individual re-sightings reported. This re-sighting data has shed light on the movements, social and nesting behaviour of chough, and has also given insight into life expectancy / survival rates.  The results of the study have been used to inform the selection of sites for designation and agri-environment agreements aimed at protecting and conserving chough in Wales.

Notable Recent Sightings

This article was prompted by a notable recent sighting. A chough seen by Mike Cram on Lock’s Common, an area of coastal grassland on the west side of Porthcawl on 10 November, and subsequently photographed by Andy Burns and Mike Pugh (c/o Steve Rosser) was found to be a young female, ringed as chick earlier in 2016, by Tony Cross on the north coast of Anglesey.

The Anglesey chough (Andy Burns)

This distance between the ringing site and the re-sighting location, 219 km, is almost double the previous maximum dispersal distance recorded by ringed Welsh birds. Other notable movements have been from Anglesey to the Isle of Man (c. 100 km), a trip that has been made by a number of individuals, while Gower-ringed birds have been recorded in Weston Supermare. To illustrate the longevity of some choughs, a pair of siblings ringed in Gower in 2004 is now resident in the Ogmore / Southerndown area. Although some of their original colour rings have now fallen off, Adrienne can recognise them from their retained rings.

Evidence that there is still much to learn includes a few reports of birds with colour-rings in North Devon in the late 2000s, but these were not seen well enough / photographed, and their origin was not determined. The occurrence of a proven Brittany-ringed bird, photographed at Baggy Point in North Devon in 2014, shows the extent to which these birds can move.

It follows that to maximise the potential of the project, the submission of further photographs and notes on colour-ringed birds would be very useful.

Reporting a Colour-ringed Chough

If you find a colour-ringed chough, the following information is most critical:
·               the observer’s name
·               the date 
·               the location (preferably with a six figure Ordnance Survey Grid Reference)
·               flock size
·               Colour-ring details.  Photos are ideal, but otherwise provision of whatever detail can be  seen of the upper and lower rings on each leg (each bird is ringed with 3 colour rings and  one metal BTO ring). Occasionally, particularly on older birds, rings have been lost,  but  Adrienne can often interpret part-seen combinations. The use of “?” for uncertain colours  etc. is very useful.

Optional but useful additional details include information such as:
·               Associations between birds; whether the colour-ringed bird appears paired / “friends” with  another colour-ringed / un-ringed bird, or whether accompanied by juveniles etc.
·               Habitats used for foraging (e.g. feeding on short-grazed sheep pasture, or digging in  seaweed on strand-line etc.).

Colour rings used in the study (Adrienne Stratford).

Submitting your Sighting

Please send your sightings to Adrienne Stratford ( . Adrienne will ensure the relevant details are sent to the BTO. 

For more images of birds in South Wales and beyond, see:

Article written based on information supplied by Adrienne Stratford.

For further information about the Teifi and Cardiff Ringing Groups see: and

Owain Gabb

1 comment:

  1. Chris Jones = Teifi Ringing Group