Colour ringed Meadow Pipits

2 January 2008 | Tim Ball

Meadow Pipits are common breeding birds in the UK but surveys indicate the population has declined by around 38% between 1970 and 2005. They are relatively common on migration in Berkshire but are now relatively uncommon breeding birds and winter records tend to be of scattered small daytime groups.

Meadow Pipits are winter visitors to Padworth Common and a roost was discovered on the Common in February this year, numbers varied between 20 and 50 birds and the roost was abandoned by 28 March - presumably when the birds left for their breeding grounds. This winter the roost was first noticed on 4 November, when at least 40 birds were present. Birds have been caught for ringing in the pre-roost gathering and a catch in November included a bird we had originally ringed at the roost in February so we have already proved a degree of winter site fidelity.

Colour ringing greatly increases the chances of birds being found away from the roost site and allows more information to be collected on the birds and their habits so we have just started a project to:

The birds are being marked with a unique combination of rings so each bird will be identifiable – there will be a metal ring over a colour ring on the right leg and two colour rings on the left leg. If you see any Meadow Pipits can you please check to see if they are colour ringed and if they are can you let me have details of when and where you saw them and the exact combination of rings. I will reply promptly with ringing and sightings details of the birds concerned.

The ringing project on Padworth Common is being carried out by three independent ringers – Tim Ball, Paul James and Karen Tucker and is supported by West Berkshire Countryside Service and the data obtained is used to supplement the Council’s management plan for the Common.