27 February 2013

The Channel Rail

British and Irish ringers usually ring more House Martins in one year than the total number of Water Rail that have ever been ringed in Britain or Ireland since 1909. With a grand total of just 6,036 ringing records, the BTO database shows a recapture rate of only 430 different birds, and 137 reports of dead birds found.

Water Rail by John Harding

Having said that, we have had some exchange with our other Euring colleagues, particularly Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands and from as far away as Belarus. Recoveries of foreign ringed birds show an autumn immigration into Britain and Ireland from central and northwestern Europe, and then hint at movement further south into France.


In 2009, we received a report from a a member of the public in Truro, Cornwall, who had found a dead Water Rail that had been killed by his cat. It was wearing a French ring, making it the first French ringed Water Rail to be found on our shores (not shown on map).

We have just received the ringing details back from the French Ringing Scheme on another Water Rail that was found in Ivybridge, Devon, in November 2012. This bird was found fresh dead after hitting powerlines. This bird had only been ringed 49 days previously at Dune de Slack, Wimereux, Pas-de-Calais (390km).

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