Importance of CES

Monday, October 17th 2011

Did you ever wonder where presenters on TV programmes like Countryfile and Spring Watch find all those wonderful facts about bird populations and breeding success? Well they get it from the BTO, and where does the BTO get its data from? Well they compile their information from the data supplied to them by a number of voluntary teams scattered around the country similar to the ringing team at Foxglove. 

The team at Foxglove has just completed its 19th consecutive season of Constant Effort Site ringing at Foxglove.  This has meant that on 12 mornings between May and September this year, the team members were up well before dawn in order to arrive at Foxglove to erect the mandatory nets as first light was breaking.  Ringing then commenced for a standard ten and half hours on each session.  Following all this effort, Tony has just completed the inputting of the information gathered and we can now see further information and recent trends emerging about our site and the wild bird population in general. Quoting from Tony's own words:

“the results have been the best ever with 2584 birds going into the data total which is incredible, ........ but basically we had 5 days with over 200 birds caught and 2 with over 300 caught! The poorest day - which is perfectly normal when they are all breeding - was CES 2 with only 106 birds. The next nearest highest year was 2479 birds in 2006, the lowest ever was 1295 in the first year 1993.”

When all this data is collected centrally, the BTO is able to make informed comments about the success (or lack of it) of the breeding season as well as other observations about survival rates and the overall population trends of individual species.  It is also worth pointing out that this information is supplied to Government under the BTO's contract with Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), to help inform their decision making on conservation issues!

So when you are sitting in your arm chairs watching TV and listening to the facts being spoken with such authority, remember that it is all possible because of the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers like the ringing team at Foxglove and it is also worth saying that we should be very proud that in Foxglove we have one of the premier sites for data collection across such a wide variety of bird species in the UK.

The photograph shows one of the team members explaining the procedures to members of the public.

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