Southern Colour Ringing Group


Walthamstow Wetlands

Today was a concerted effort at the final Herons and Egrets. We however had no idea what awaited us on Walthamstow No 1 Island. Assuming (correclty) that we were too late for most of the Herons and we were just going to do a nest survey we had not counted on the large Egret colony that there is on this island. Final count for the day was a total of 21 Heron nests and 19 Egret nests. Many of the Egret nests had young of the correct size to ring. Unfortunately we had not considerd there would be such a large amount and we had only taken 14 colour rings out with us. This resulted in the final 10 birds at Walthamstow only being ringed with metal rings and no colour rings. Given we were also planning to do the final three nests at Netherhall that evening a few hurried calls secured another ten colour rings from a ringer on the other side of Herts. We drove across to collect and just made it back to the farm to collect the boat in time where Rob ringed a bonus brood of Jackdaws in one of the owl boxes before we left. At Netherhall we managed to get two more broods colour ringing another six Little Egrets. This bought the day total to 30 Little Egrets of which 20 were colour ringed. A great effort by all  the team and thanks to London Wildlife Trust and the Thames Water fisheries team for their support and ferrying on the boat out to the Island.

The first visit to the rafts at Seventy Acres Lake was made today primarily to count nests. There were a few young Black-headed Gulls to ring and it was pleaseing to count some Common Terns that had laid. Final total count for the morning was 142 pairs of Black-headed Gulls and 9 pairs of Common Terns. We will probably make a visit to ring more gulls next weekend. One bonus was on counting some gulls that had nested on wire cages for fish refuges we discovered a Pochard sitting on a nest which trapped itself in the cage. A quick grab and it wa secured for Adam to gain a ringing tick!

 2018 05 10 4

Due to three nests (one Egret and two Herons) being ready to do today we took what we thought was going to be a final trip out for 2018. A successful trip with all three nests ringed resulting in 4 more Egrets and 3 more Herons. However, it was clear that there were three Egret nests just hatched that would potenitally give 10 Egrets chicks to ring in about ten days time. It is probably going to be worth another trip out to ring these three nests as they will all be ready on the same day. So it does look like we will make five trips out this year which will result in an excellent total of Herons and Egrets for 2018. 


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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