Beddington Farmlands Bird Group
BIRD RINGING AT BEDDINGTON
A programme of bird ringing at Beddington Sewage farm/Farmlands has been ongoing since the late 1950s when, under the auspices of the London Natural History Society,the first Beddington Ringing Station (BRS) was set up.
The catching and ringing of wild birds and their subsequent Recovery (found dead ) or Control (caught by other ringers or sight read) has enabled us to plot the life of an individual bird by applying a uniquely numbered ring to the birds leg. This has given us information on longevity, migration routes and site fidelity amongst other data.
All aspects of ringing are controlled & administered by the British Trust for Ornithology.
The birds are caught in mist nets (an almost invisible net across a flyway), traps and in nest boxes as nestlings.
Ringers are highly trained and ensure that no harm comes to the birds.
From the early sixties an annual report on the ringing was submitted for publication in the London Bird Report listing the numbers & species of birds ringed controls & recoveries of BRS birds.
Numbers of birds ringed reached 10,000 by 1960 and has continued growing up until the present day. Ringers came and went over the years each one contributing innovations in trapping methods . Nest boxes for the dwindling population of Tree Sparrows were put up in the eighties by Simon Aspinall & Ian Beames of the Surrey Bird Club and have been monitored ever since then.
The present ringer in charge is Mike Netherwood who arrived at Beddington in 1974 and trained under Ken Parsley who trained under Tony Hutson. By the time KP retired through ill health in 1978 MN had qualified as an “A” ringer and was able to take over the site. He in turn recruited Mick Cook and they worked together until MC retired in 2009.
We used a mobile ringing kit (carrying poles nets and all equipment) all over the Farm going wherever there were good numbers of birds we could catch. Gradually the pressures of land use for work purposes and particularly the presence of traveller’s horses roaming freely (mist nets are expensive to replace!!) forced us to seek out a safe haven where we and the birds could find some peace.
Such a place we found within the enclosed Thames Water Works Area in the far SE corner of the Farm. The old settling tanks comprised sixteen square concrete tanks with their dividing water carrier channels - these tanks had become unnecessary to the sewage treatment process over the years and were overgrown with Willow, Sallow , Reed mace and Phragmites which thrived in the shallow aquatic environment nurted only by decaying leaves & blown soil/dust. This was an obvious environment for many species of birds.Mist nets were erected between poles and run along the walkways between the trees. Many species Many specie of warbler found the area particularly attractive to feed up on migration-Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed & Sedge Warblers were all there in abundance in Spring and Autumn. Birds breeding locally also came into the area to forage for food. It was only in hard winter weather that we had to use supplementary seed in feeders to attract the birds to the area.
Highlights of this era were the juvenile Bluethroat (the second for Beddington) which was trapped and ringed in 1997 only to be retrapped there again two years later when it stayed for a while singing & displaying to the delight of many observers. The Wryneck ringed in 2008 was a first for Beddington.
During this period we also monitored the Tree Sparrow nest boxes,recording the welfare of the chicks and ringing them before they fledged. We were joined in this research by Derek Coleman, another qualified ringer and long standing member of BFBG.
Mick Cook’s retirement in 2009 left MN without a working partner for the first time. Four other members of BFBG had expressed an interest in learning to ring but were loath to trek across the Farm to the tanks so it was decided to dedicate both a new lakeside ringing site and the resurgence of the Beddington Ringing Station .We have been ringing here since Spring 2012 and have had some interesting results. Highlights have been the trapping of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a Tree Creeper and a Cetti’s Warbler all new to ringing at the Farm.