West Midlands Ringing Group
Read some of the bigger stories from our bird ringing in the UK and abroad
Welcoming back a willow warbler
Ben Dolan writes:
This a story about a small Willow Warbler called 224. On Wednesday 30th April 2014, Brewood Ringers were conducting a ringing session at WM Wheat & Son Garden Centre near Aldridge, West Midlands. The team were lucky enough to catch and ring a Willow Warbler, which was ringed with number DYJ224 as an adult.
Given its age, we had established it had already travelled to its wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa and back to the UK at least once, which is an approximate distance of 13,600+ Miles, which according to Google Maps would take us 4,000+ hours to walk.
The team continued the session on that very day and during the summer caught and ringed several newly fledged Willow Warblers, which we hope were from a successful brood parented by 224 or other local Willow Warblers.
Fast forward a year and on Thursday 23th April 2015 Brewood Ringers were back at WM Wheat & Son to conduct a short bird ringing session. On arrival at 6am the weather was bright and clear but was soon covered in fog following a change in weather and temperature. The team erected the nets at the public feeding station and went to enjoy a nice cup of tea listening to the sounds of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Willow Warblers and a number of other species.
Following tea the team conducted a check of the nets and found a small bird in the net, thought to be a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler. During extraction a very excited member of the group shouted that it already had a ring on and could be a control.
The bird was identified as a Willow Warbler and we read and re-checked the number of the existing ring. DYJ224. The bird was back!
So not only had this tiny warbler done the journey at least once in 2014 it had again gone all of the way to sub-Saharan Africa and returned to exactly the same spot at Wheats. What we can say from this data is that this Willow Warbler has flown to it’s wintering grounds somewhere in Africa and back twice, which could amount to a distance of 27,000+ miles, which would take us 8,000+ hours to walk.
What a fantastic story about an amazing little bird!