Colour-ringing Projects


Since December 2010 the Group have been colour-ringing Shelducks, 95 have been colour-ringed to date. Shelducks are mostly caught during the winter months through canon netting, but many have also been caught using whoosh nets and in duck traps. A yellow darvic ring with two letters is fitted on the birds left leg, with the standard BTO metal ring placed on the birds right leg.

Shelduck 'FL' - Seaton Marshes Mar '11 (c) Mike Tyler

Black-tailed Godwit

Since March 2009, 20 Black-tailed Godwits have been caught, ringed and colour-ringed by the Group. Some birds have been caught during night time mist netting sessions on Colyford Marsh, but most are caught during wildfowl cannon netting operations on Seaton Marshes. This project is part of an international study on Black-tailed Godwits. Every Black-tailed Godwit colour-ringed on the Axe Estuary is fitted with six colour rings, with the combination of YELLOW RED YELLOW on the birds right leg being the Axe Estuary's unique colour-ring combination. The colour-rings fitted on the birds left leg are unique to each individual bird. Birds are named by the first letter of each colour ring on their left leg from top to bottom, for example yellow over orange over green would be known as YOG.

Black-tailed Godwit 'GOR' - Axe Estuary Mar '10 (c) Steve Waite

So far, 60% of the Godwits colour-ringed by the Group have been re-sighted in the field. There have been some very exciting sightings too, with several being seen in France, two in Ireland and singles being reported in Scotland, Norfolk, and Iceland! Full details of these re-sightings will be posted at a later date.


The Group are delighted to announce they have set up a project with the objective to:

(a) Ascertain the annual population of Wigeon Anas penelope grazing fields along the Otter Estuary during the winters of 2016/17 to 2020/21, prior to flooding works.

(b) Monitor the movement of Wigeon along the Axe, Otter and Exe Estuaries and nationally, in particular their breeding grounds.

The colour ring scheme involves the use of lime green rings with black lettering and placed on the left leg below the tibia to identify individual birds.

If you see any of our colour-ringed birds, even if it is on the Axe Estuary, please email the full details (date, time, location, species and colour-ring combination or code) to Ian Stanbridge.

Or you can report any colour-ringed birds to the BTO here;