A story with colour rings on it

October 7th 2018

Over the years Avril and I have been very fortunate to record a number of birds in Assynt that have had colour rings on their legs. , and it’s always exciting to find one; you will nearly always be able to get the life history of the individual bird.

If you are lucky enough to see a bird, it makes no difference if it’s dead or alive, with a combination of colour rings on its leg(s), some of which may carry an obvious letter and/or number code, then –

identify your bird!

carefully note the colour rings on each leg and the order in which they have been placed, this is always recorded as X over Y, include the location of any metal ring;

record where the rings are placed e.g. above or below the ‘knee’ and on which leg;

record any alpha-numeric code – usually a maximum of three characters long these must be read from the top down or left to right depending on the direction of the code. There are loads of combinations of ring and character colours so it is important that you note this information too, e.g. pale blue ring with yellow characters;

if possible get a grid reference at the time or consult the appropriate OS map as soon as possible; and lastly

clear, sharp, photographs can make life a lot easier!

After you get all that information what should you do with it?

The easiest, and generally the quickest, way to report your bird and get its history is to log on to http://www.cr-birding.org. This site carries details of thousands of European colour-ringing schemes from Accentors to Woodpeckers! Don’t panic though you can narrow the search by simply searching on the bird species. Once you find the scheme with details matching yours simply contact the scheme organiser, via the information given, and send them the details of your bird.

The table below is a summary of the colour-ringed birds we have recorded in Assynt along with some brief details about each one. There are also photos of a few of these birds.

Good luck, enjoy your birding, and please let the Field Club know if you come across a colour-ringed bird and what you find out about it.

David and Avril Haines


Species Location Date seen Where Ringed When Ringed Age at ringing Other area(s) recorded
Pied Wagtail Culkein Drumbeg 23-4-11 Weymouth, Dorset 1-3-10 2nd year  
Twite Culkein Drumbeg 14-7-11 Orkney Winter 2009/10 Juvi Clachtoll
Ringed Plover Bay of Culkein 19-10-11 Achiltibuie July 2010 Chick  
Ringed Plover Clashnessie 31-10-11 Coigach July 2011 Chick  
Greenland Barnacle Goose Culkein, Stoer 20-1-12 Balnakeil Farm, Durness 21-7-07 ?  
Twite Clachtoll May 2012 Orkney Winter 2011/12 ?  
Sanderling Bay of Culkein 15-7-13 Zackenberg, Greenland 2-7-09 Nestling France, Orkney, Ireland
Great Skua Rubh’an Dunain 18-6-15 Handa 5-7-09 Nestling  
Greenland Barnacle Goose Culkein Stoer 13-12-15 Eorrabus, Isle of Islay 14-4-98 Adult This bird is mate of other 13-12-15 one
Greenland Barnacle Goose Culkein Stoer 13-12-15 Gruinart Farm, Islay 27-10-14 Adult This bird is mate of other 13-12-15 one
Brent Goose Bay of Culkein 13-10-17 Cromane, Co. Derry 26-3-09 Juvi. Iceland
Shag Stoer Lighthouse 29-3-18 Isle of May 10-6-15 Chick Aberdeenshire
Oystercatcher Bay of Culkein 18-9-18 Eskifjorour, Iceland 19-5-18 Adult  



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Adult bird feeding two juveniles, Culkein Drumbeg jetty area (Steve and Carol Langford) (17/06)