Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group


Curlew L5Curlew Yellow flag L5 © R JutsumThree male Curlew from the small Severn and Avon Vales breeding population have been recorded on the Taw-Torridge estuary in the past two weeks. It is likely that they will stay for the winter as Curlew are very faithful to both breeding and wintering sites. All are marked with yellow leg flags bearing a two-character inscription. Two of these (AL and AP) have been located on the estuary via GPS trackers fitted on their breeding grounds and a third (L5) was re-sighted by a local birder. We would welcome further reports of these birds by email to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the form on the EURING website.

Although we have ringed relatively few Dunlin, we have started colour ringing them to investigate the wintering site turnover, fidelity and habitat use. As an unexpected bonus one of these birds ringed in October 2021 has been reported this month in north-east Iceland. The life history and map can be viewed here.

Two Curlew fitted with tags provided by Rijkswaterstaat/Bureau Waardenburg at The Skern, Northam on 7 November 2021 have now departed from the Taw-Torridge for their breeding grounds. One seems to be settled in Gloucestershire and the other is in County Durham.


The aims of the Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group are to study the wading birds that live in, or pass through, Devon and Cornwall.

We hope to undertake fieldwork approximately once a month, mainly at weekends, involving either mist-netting or the use of a cannon net. Members of the group live across Britain, although many are based in Devon. A key site for fieldwork is the Exe Estuary and in particular Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve, where we have a project on colour ringed Oystercatcher.

Birds are marked with individually numbered metal leg rings and, to aid relocation without the need to recapture them, with colour rings. Under special license we are also fitting GPS tags to a small number of birds to help understand the way they use the habitats around the estuary through the winter and at different states of the tide.


The Dawlish Warren Recording Group publish regular updates on the birds seen at Dawlish Warren.

The county bird clubs are Devon Birds and the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society.

Bird ringing in Britain is licensed and coordinated by The British Trust for Ornithology. More information on why we ring birds and why we use colour marks on our study species can be found here. Bird ringing in Europe is coordinated by EURING.

The definitive database of all colour-marking schemes for waders in Europe and the East Atlantic flyway is available on the International Wader Study Group website. All editions of their publications (Wader Study, Wader Study Group Bulletin and International Wader Studies) are available online

For species other than waders the European colour-ring Birding website, voluntarily maintained by Dirk Raes, should be useful.

Join us

The group welcomes volunteer ringers from anywhere who are interested in taking part in the fieldwork, although membership of the group is open to all, whether or not you hold a bird-ringing license. Please bear in mind that we need to have a good balance of experience across the team for each session, but we do our best to accommodate and train the less experienced.

The current membership fee is £5 per year, running from November to October. You can register and join here.


The group operates with the excellent support of Teignbridge District Council and Devon Wildlife Trust as landowners of Dawlish Warren. Warren Golf Club kindly allow access across their land.

We are also grateful to he RSPB and David King for allowing us to operate on their land at Exminster Marshes and to Torridge District Council for co-ordinating permissions at Northam Burrows.

The value of the projects would not be fully realised without the excellent re-sighting work undertaken and publicised by the Dawlish Warren Recording Group.

We are grateful to Natural England for funding the rings and GPS tags, and for providing staff time for ongoing management of the projects. We are also grateful to the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) for staff time for fitting the GPS tags, organising the project and dealing with data. Devon Birds have generously provided some funding for colour rings.

Header images on this website are licensed under the Creative Commons license by the photographers.

© 2018-2022 Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group

Website design and build by Garganey Consulting