Essex & Suffolk Water and the Abberton Bird Ringing Group has now successfully ringed over 2000 birds including 300 wildfowl through national ringing schemes in partnership with British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Bird ringing, sometimes knows as banding, is the attachment of a small, individually numbered metal or plastic tag to the leg or wing of a wild bird to enable individual identification. This helps in keeping track of the movements of the bird and its life history.


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The water company has even been able to track returning winged visitors to Abberton Reservoir near Colchester, including a teal that had been ringed in Portugal. The bird presumably uses the site as a stopover each year while on route to Iberia, another piece in the amazing Abberton teal jigsaw. 


A Lesser Redpoll ringed at Abberton in October 2020 was caught by a ringer in Norway the following summer showing Abberton is a vital destination for migrating birds across the world.


Dr Kim Wallis, Conservation Advisor at Essex & Suffolk Water said: “The data collection on ducks at Abberton dates back to the 1940s which amongst other information, helps us understand about longevity, bird movement and helps to inform our conservation efforts.


“We have seen an excellent mix of breeding species ringed at Abberton Reservoir around the scrub, woodland and reedbed habitats. This includes nightingale, cetti's warbler, kingfisher, blackcap, reed warbler and bullfinch to name a few - contributing to national monitoring by the British Trust of Ornithology.”


With the Big Garden Birdwatch kicking off this weekend the water company is sharing its top tips to help customers encourage birds and wildlife to their doorsteps;

  • Put out bird feeders and nest boxes (away from predators)
  • Create or leave a wild area in their garden and have a pond (can be tiny!)
  • Contribute bird sightings to monitoring programmes
  • Keep cats indoors around dawn, especially when young birds are fledging.