The group running a Curlew colour-ringing project under the auspices of the BTO are keen to learn of any sightings of colour-ringed Curlews at Goldcliff, West Usk Lighthouse, Peterstone or anywhere else on the Gwent coast this autumn/winter.
In 2015/16 41 Curlews were caught on the Usk Estuary and fitted with colour rings; although there have been several sightings in the intervening years more information on these birds is needed. It is also hoped that one of the Slimbridge head-started birds, released in 2019, might be found here – a very exciting prospect. One has been seen at a distance, but the numbers on the ring not yet read.
Colour rings on the left tarsus (below the ‘knee’) indicate where the bird was ringed – the combination of Orange over White denotes those ringed on the Usk Estuary but other colours are used for birds ringed elsewhere. For example, Curlews colour-ringed on the Severn in Gloucestershire have Yellow over White.
Colour rings on the tibiae (above the ‘knee’) indicate the individual: all were given a single colour ring on the left tibia and two colour rings on the right tibia. These rings could be a combination of Blue, Green, Black, Orange, Red or White. There’s also a metal ring on the right tarsus.
When reporting a sighting please note whether the rings are on the left or right leg and also give the order of the colour rings e.g. Left above: Black; Left below: Orange over White; Right above: Blue over Blue. Right below: metal.
Although seeing the colour ring combinations can be tricky (water levels at Goldcliff Lagoons may be high or birds on the foreshore may be distant) all reports are important so please get those scopes out. Curlew numbers are in rapid decline; knowing the movements and locations of wintering birds will help in working out how best to conserve them.
Please send all sightings (or photos) to Mike Smart at email@example.com and include the location, date and, if possible, the time.
For background information on colour rings, see the Curlewcall website at https://www.curlewcall.org .