Birds in their thousands recorded in the Forest - The Heart of England Forest


The Redditch Ringing Group, affiliated to Birmingham University, and on behalf of The British Trust for Ornithology, have been recording birds in the Spernal area of the Forest for the last year. We are delighted to note that the group has recorded birds in their thousands in this area of the Forest.

A successful first year of bird ringing

The Redditch Ringing Group (RRG) is made up of experienced volunteers, who are trained in the use of mist nets and know how to sensitively handle and ring birds. They focused their surveys on five locations and found their first year in the Forest to be very successful.

After a total of 42 visits across the year they caught and released 2,312 birds of 41 species, giving us a greater picture of our birdlife and adding to our biodiversity monitoring, which helps to shape how we create and manage our habitats within the Forest.

Mosaic of habitats in the Forest attracting a variety of birds

Five meadow pipits at Netherstead

With a mosaic of interesting habitats in the Forest, such as marshy grassland, stubble fields, small pools and reedbeds as well as hedgerows and woodland, the RRG hoped to encounter a wide variety of birds. Spring and summer migrants included a variety of warblers – grasshopper, reed, sedge, willow warbler and chiffchaff. In total 25 species were recorded as breeding in the Forest.

One summer migrant, captured in May, was a reed warbler which had been recorded in Worcestershire the previous July. This might not seem far away, but in fact this bird is likely to have over-wintered in tropical West Africa, before returning the following year back to within 28km of where it hatched.

At an exclusive ringing demonstration for our Friends of the Forest, the RRG managed to catch an adult female kestrel – a first for the RRG in 15 years of ringing!

Red and Amber List birds in the Forest

Birds found over-wintering in the Forest included lesser redpoll and redwing. These species are two of the 8 Red List Species of Conservation Concern recorded by the RRG. The numbers of lesser redpolls have declined considerably over the last 40 years, so it is great to find them visiting the Forest. Seven Amber List Species were also recorded including snipe, reed bunting, kestrel, kingfisher, dunnock and bullfinch.

Tony Kelly from the RRG said: “It has been a really interesting first year getting the opportunity to ring in a variety of habitats on sites managed for wildlife and the environment. We’ve ringed a good number of a range of species and, hopefully, look forward to getting some interesting re-trap data in the years to come.”

Tony Kelly from the Redditch Ringing Group at the exclusive Friends of the Forest event

Ongoing monitoring of birds in the Forest

Over the coming years we hope this monitoring will enable us to know if patterns are changing in terms of when birds first arrive, as well as how the number of species and their populations change.

The Heart of England Forest would like to thank the Redditch Ringing Group for their dedication and commitment to recording our bird life. This volunteer group has donated over 800 hours to wildlife surveying, making a significant contribution to the study and conservation of the Forest.

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