Southern Colour Ringing Group

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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. 

Species Ringed Colour ringed
Brent Goose 14 14

Our first catch of Brent Geese was taken at Blue House Farm over the weekend of 26-28 January 2018; the first time that this species has been ringed in Essex for forty years. Eighteen birds were colour ringed with green rings with two white letters.

Thanks to the various teams over the weekend and of course huge thanks to EWT and in particular Harry Smith (warden) and Tim Lawrence (assistant Warden) at Blue House Farm.

Species Ringed Colour ringed
Brent Goose 18 18

Methods

The Southern Colour Ringing Group catches Brent Geese using a cannon net, which involves firing a large net over birds feeding on grazed fields or salt marsh.

Once the net is set and the cannons connected, we wait for geese to be attracted to decoys we have put in the field near the set net. When enough geese are in the area and it is safe to do so, the net is fired.

The team of ringers then removes the geese from under the net and temporarily places them in hessian sacks which are stored in a holding area for processing. Birds are then aged and fitted with an uniquely numbered metal ring. Measurements may be taken to help identify the sex of each goose. We also fit colour rings (green rings with white letters and a two digit code) which allows the birds to be relocated without needing to be recaptured. There are many more bird-watchers looking for colour-ringed birds, than there are cannon netting teams, so this greatly improves our chances of understanding the movements of the birds from the Crouch Estuary.

If you see a bird with one of our colour rings, please send details (ring-code, date, location, species) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ringing totals

2017-2018 winter totals

Species Ringed Colour ringed
Brent Goose 18 18

2018-2019 winter totals

Species Ringed Colour ringed
Brent Goose 14 14

Grand totals

Species Ringed Colour ringed
Brent Goose 32 32

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