Southern Colour Ringing Group


The first few days of tracking Brent Geese has been very interesting. In general all birds seem to be roosting on Bridgemarsh Island and grazing on the fields at Blue House Farm during the day. All five geese have spent the last three days grazing within a few yards of each other - that is quite fascinating and shows that group caught together have for at least three days stayed together. Most of them have also roosted overnight on Bridgemarsh Island in pretty much the same spots most nights which is also very interesting, although one roosted the other side of N Fambridge and in the creek by South Fambridge on one night.

David Low has been out in the field observing the birds and we have established that of the 14 birds we caught it consisted of five pairs (ten individuals) and 4 individual unpaired birds. This added value and information is quite remarkable and will give us some incredibly enhanced data. He has also observed all the neck collared birds all of which seem to be behaving normally and showing no issues with their collars. The photo below shows one bird preening and David's observations have been very encouraging along with the tracking data showing all birds appear to be behaving as normal with the rest of the flock.

G DL   Neck Collar 9 Jan 2019 2

 Green DL in the field - Photo David Low

Below are the maps for the first four days of tracking for each bird.

Map BRAN01 11 Jan 19


Map BRAN02 11 Jan 19


Map BRAN03 11 Jan 19


Map BRAN04 11 Jan 19


Map BRAN05 11 Jan 19


6th Jan 2019 - Gadwall added to colour ring total


This weekend we visited Blue House Farm once again to attempt to catch Brent Geese. Large fields and plenty of area for geese to feed means this activity is difficult and getting birds into the catching area is often fraught with problems!

Friday we were very close and did fire the net in an attempt to take a small number of birds on the edge of the catching area. Unfortunately the net did not go out properly and birds beat the net away resulting in no birds caught. Saturday was equally frustrating and again although we were very close on a number of occasions we were unable to keep birds in the catching area in any number. We decided not to fire on small numbers (between 1 and 5) and waited for a bigger number of birds. Sunday had other issues and a yachting activity on the river with lots of disturbance saw birds behave very differently although again we were close to getting birds in the catching area it was never quite enough or a settled flock to attempt a catch.

On the fourth day of trying and after some very patient twinkling over about three hours of geese at last a catch for this winter was taken. Around 450 birds were on the field and took a very long time to move across to near the catching area. The catch of 14 birds was particularly valuable as all 14 birds were colour ringed and five birds were fitted with satellite trackers. 


The aim of the Southern Colour Marking Group is to study various species of bird using colour marking in London, Essex and Hertfordshire. We do this by catching the birds using a cannon net, a technique requiring a special licence, or finding nests of breeding birds and marking the young in the nest.

Birds captured using cannon nets are extracted from the net before being marked with individually numbered metal leg rings. Whilst ringing the birds, we take measurements and study plumage characteristics. As many birds as possible are marked with a colour mark (either leg ring or wing tag) which can be read with a telescope without the bird being recaptured.


Here are links to other related websites:

Brent Goose Colour Marking 

South England Kite Group

Essex Wildlife Trust

London Wildlife Trust

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority

If you know of a website that we have missed, please contact us.

Bird ringing in Britain is licensed and coordinated by The British Trust for Ornithology. Bird ringing in Europe is coordinated by EURING.

A catalogue of colour ringing projects throughout Europe is voluntarily maintained by Dirk Raes at European colour-ring Birding.


The group operates with the excellent support and cooperation of The Essex Wildlife Trust at Blue House Farm which operates the nature reserve and allows access for Brent Goose catching. The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and the London Wildlife Trust allow us to access sites in the Lee Valley Park for Heron and Egret work. Richard Bott kindly allows access to woodland on the Bott Estate for Red Kite monitoring.

We are grateful to the Essex Birdwatching Society and Essex Field Club for providing funding for the colour ringing programme for Brent Geese, London Wildlife Trust for Herons and Jenny Weston at the RSPB for support with Red Kite wing tagging.

Header images on this website are licensed under the Creative Commons license by the photographers

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