It was a slow start to our ringing session at South Landing, Flamborough. We put up 7 nets and only had a trickle of birds coming through during the morning. It was looking like it would be a slow and an uneventful session. As we sat outside to have some breakfast we heard a dog barking close to the nets. I decided to go and check it out in case anyone had wondered near our net lanes and to ensure any birds caught were safe. As I approached one of the mist nets, it suddenly dawned on me that something very unusual had been caught. I was extremely excited to see a wryneck (Jynx torquilla), which are small brown cryptic birds related to woodpeckers. 

Wryneck distinctively moving its head.

These birds get their name from their ability to turn their heads almost 180 degrees. When disturbed, they use this snake-like head twisting to warn off predators. A wryneck has not been ringed in Flamborough since 1991 (28 years ago) and this was the 6th ever record ringed for the Observatory so a fantastic record. 


An overcast and initially breezy day at South Landing which got off to a slow start with only a handful of birds in the first net round. A spell of showers forced the nets to be closed for a time. As the weather improved, flocks of swallows were flying around the site. Using a swallow tape lure caught us 2 swallows and interestingly 5 goldfinch. The next round saw another 13 goldfinches seemingly attracted by the swallow song being played. Another swallow and a further 6 goldfinches were caught, along with 3 chaffinch (an uncommon bird in our nets).

Wren 24
Goldcrest 1
Long tailed tit2
Blue tit 11
Robin 2
Tree sparrow11
Great tit1


Looking at the weather forecast the night before, we weren’t sure whether it would be worth ringing in the morning. It was forecast to be a little gusty with occasional showers, but we decided to give it a go… you never know. We arrived at 6am and put up 7 nets at South Landing. After doing an initial net round, we knew we had made the right call and it was going to be a good day. Interestingly there was a large movement of robins with a total of 41 being caught throughout the morning. Other highlights were 5 yellow browed warblers and a lovely redstart. We also had a bonus bird at the end which was an adult siskin which we don’t often catch. We ended the session on 116 birds (96 new and 20 retraps). The lesson of the morning being sometimes the weather forecast is wrong! 


Another day of north easterlies forecast and I was optimistic about the session ahead. The quagmire-like conditions created by the resident cattle at Holmes Gut made setting up a little bit more demanding, but our first round delivered a good number of birds; mainly consisting of early morning thrushes which were pretty abundant around the site. The morning continued steadily as a slight rain-front threatened to halt our progress. The rain came and went after about fifteen minutes, and I wondered if this could have brought in something interesting when Jim mentioned that it may have done so. There I was becoming excited over the possibility of a fieldfare, or even better, ring ouzel, when it was revealed as something (in my opinion) that is almost impossible to top; a stunning Woodcock! An absolute cryptic beauty, my first time seeing one in the hand, and another memorable Migweek moment! 


Hello everyone and a great big thanks to all of the participants who took part in our most successful Ringing & Migration Week (Migweek) to date: Dave Aitken, Paul & Jenny Butterworth, Tony Corscadden, Ana Cowie, Harriett Day, Andy Hood, Jo Hood, Andy Jayes, Jamie Johnson, Jarred Johnson (no relation), Imogen Lloyd, Lucas Mander, Ian Marshall, Poppy Rummery and Josh Saunders.  Thanks also to Tony Hood for being very helpful and talking to the public!

A grand total of 1214 new birds of 38 species were ringed, from 6 different ringing sites on the headland. We caught no rare birds but we did have a few highlights; a couple of Sparrowhawks, Woodcock, Ring Ouzel, 2 ‘tristis’ Chiffchaffs,  5 Fieldfare and pride of place must go to the Norwegian-ringed Goldcrest trapped at Bempton.

The greatest achievement must surely be the Redwing total of 220 birds, this has more than doubled the existing FBO annual record! ….. and we still have another few weeks of autumn remaining. Many thanks to all involved, now we can await some great recoveries.

Jim Morgan – Flamborough Bird Observatory Ringer In Chief

p.s. a ‘warming-down session on Monday at South Landing produced 2 foreign-ringed Goldcrest from Norway and Finland!


Bird ringing brings joy and excitement and for me ,this weekend, is exactly what it did at Flamborough Bird Observatory as well as Bempton cliffs. Two fantastic places where I have met incredible, knowledgeable people with the same passion as me. They dedicate their time and hard work to Flamborough Bird Observatory. 

I was fortunate to be a part of this the last couple of days. I was invited over to do some ringing, which is brilliant as I am keen to ring other birds and meet people with the same passion as me. 

Back home I am part of a ringing group called Sorby Brecks based in Sheffield where I am a trainee, working towards my c license.  So meeting other ringers and new birds is a perfect opportunity, which Flamborough Bird Observatory offers especially over migration week. You never know what might turn up. The early mornings paid off on my last day of ringing at Flamborough, we happened to extract two goldcrests, one wearing a Norwegian ring and the other wearing a ring from Finland. For me that’s what ringing is all about. 

However all of Flamborough head through to Bempton gives you a good opportunity of seeing some stunning birds. My highlight of this weekend was seeing the red flanked bluetail, wow it really is amazing, such rarity’s turning up in Flamborough. So thank you for my extraordinary weekend with you all and how welcome you made me feel. 

Harriet Day

Thank you Jo Hood, Jim Morgan, Dave Aitken & Imogen Lloyd


A sunny start soon gave way to an overcast and breezy morning. We put up 7 nets, hopeful as Brambling and Siskin were flying over and calling. Sadly no Brambling or Siskin to be caught today or any of the lovely flock of 30 Fieldfare that flew over us. We had a very quiet morning with 21 birds caught however we did catch a nice mix of birds including 5 Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff, most likely migrants passing through. We also caught 4 Tree Sparrows, a species we are privileged to have thriving on the headland given there are some counties were it is in effect extinct. The gentle pace gave us chance to photograph some of the feather characteristics we look for when ageing birds. 


A last session before lockdown saw us out on a sunny and crisp morning, with skeins of Pink-footed geese flying overhead.

We had a very steady morning and caught 10 new birds alongside 8 retraps.  We were lucky enough to catch 2 beautiful Grey Wagtails, whilst we often see Grey Wagtails on the beaches at South landing and Danes dyke we rarely catch them, they also pass over the headland at this time of year on migration. We also caught a juvenile male Sparrowhawk and 2 Goldcrests. 

Hopefully we will be able to get back out ringing soon.


With limited ringing opportunities due to the unsettled weather, we took a lockdown friendly walk around South Dykes. As the wind dropped and the afternoon sun came out we saw plenty of birds including flocks of mixed titmice, a handful of foraging Goldcrest and at least 60 Chaffinch feeding along the field margins with a few Greenfinch and Yellowhammer mixed in.

The highlight however was seeing a male Nuthatch that we had originally ringed on the 20th March 2019, we were able to read the ring from numerous photos taken of the bird.  We caught both a male and female Nuthatch on the 20th March 2019. They were sexed by colour of the flanks and under tail coverts, which are a brighter rufous-red and well demarcated from the whitish or buff lower throat, belly and breast in the males. 

Both birds were aged as 2nd year birds (born in 2018), based on contrast in the median and greater covert feathers. These 2 birds were the first Nuthatches to be ringed in the observatory recording area, up until this point they were a very scare visitor to the headland. A pair were initially seen in the South Dykes area from October 2017, with nesting recorded the following year and in June 2019 3 birds were recorded in the same area. 


This morning we had the recently rare occurrence of 3 sites being ringed at simultaneously at Flamborough. One ringer was at their private site on the Headland, 2 ringers were at Holmes Gut and 2 at South Landing (all under current BTO guidance). It was a cold and slow start with some birds trickling through, but a great perk of getting up so early is seeing the sunrise! At South Landing we caught more retraps than birds without rings which is still valuable information. The highlights for us were a lesser redpoll, a chiffchaff and 2 tree sparrows. 

Whilst we were doing our net rounds, we were dismayed to see the amount of litter that had been left at South Landing, including items such as plastic visors. Please remember to always take your rubbish home with you or dispose of it appropriately. Litter can have a detrimental impact to our wildlife which more and more people are appreciating at the moment during the current lockdown. 


A still and overcast morning with lots of Blackbirds calling from the hedges saw us open 9 nets, hopeful for the catch ahead.

We put up a net in a new ride only recently cut, as we were putting up the nets we flushed at least 4 Woodcock from the scrub, the last few days have seen a noticeable arrival of these beautiful birds.

The first net round saw the new ride deliver a wonderful treat- a Woodcock, these medium sized waders have an amazing cryptic plumage designed to help camouflage them in their woodland habitat. They are generally a secretive bird, often only seen at dusk or dawn when they feed in woodland floors or damp fields. In spring males can sometimes be seen giving display flights, ‘roding’ and making their distinctive croaking call. 

The Woodcock was the definite highlight of the session, alongside 15 Blackbirds, 3 gorgeous male Bullfinch and a Treecreeper. 

2nd May 2021

This year the FBO ringing team have embarked on an exciting new trial. We have established a Constant Effort Site at Thornwick, which is a scheme run by the British Trust of Ornithology, identifying changes in catch sizes across a network of standardised mist nets. This enables us to better monitor changes in the abundance and breeding success of common passerines. 

At Thornwick, licensed ringers will erect a series of mist nets in the same positions, for the same amount of time, during 12 visits evenly spaced between 1 May and 31 August. 

This morning was the first session of the scheme and we couldn’t have asked for a better start… It was a cold and frosty morning to begin with, with small amounts of rain falling. We started with a few chiffchaffs, whitethroats, lesser whitethroats and more trickling through but the star bird came a bit later and was completely unexpected. As we approached one of the nets, all of us saw a blackbird sitting calmly, however as we got closer some white peaked through and to our amazement, it was a stunning ring ouzel! Two of the ringers present had never seen one in the hand before so this was a real treat. 

We ended the session with 25 newly ringed birds, 13 recaptures and 17 species in total.

We will be keeping this blog up to date with all of FBO’s ringing activities so please check it regularly to find out more about what we do and why! 


The change in wind direction and the arrival of many migrants over previous days was an optimistic sign for our ringing session at South Landing. We arrived on site at 05.30 am, having had a quick stop to admire the Hoopoe on the nearby bowling green, a beautiful sunny morning with barely any wind and plenty of birdsong greeted us.

We initially erected 7 nets, later adding another 2, the first net round delivered on the migrant front with 2 Lesser Whitethroats, one of which was a returning bird having been ringed as a juvenile at Flamborough last year. Also in the first round was a lovely Sedge Warbler, the first time we’ve caught one in spring at this site. Throughout the session we had a steady stream of Warblers, in fact 6 different species were caught, including a Garden Warbler and 7 Blackcaps.

It was rewarding to re-catch 5 Warblers previously ringed at Flamborough, its nice to know they have survived their migration and made it back to raise another generation. We had another special bird – a Reed Warbler, another first spring catch at this site.
Alongside our migrants we also caught some resident birds showing brood patches, evidence they are breeding locally, including Blackbirds, Dunnocks, a Coal Tit, Bullfinch and Song Thrush.

A lovely spring session lasting 6 hours in which we caught 35 birds of 17 species.


Today we had a successful second CES (Constant Effort Site) ringing session at Thornwick. When we arrived the weather conditions were ideal with an overcast sky and no wind which make the nets less visible to birds. We got our 9 standard nets up in a quick 30 minutes so had time for a quick tea and biscuit break. It was a steady session with a larger than average number of whitethroats (6) and lesser whitethroats (3) caught. 

There were a nice variety of birds with 14 species caught in total (26 newly ringed and 9 retraps). 

We are looking forward to finding out valuable trend information on abundance of adults and juveniles, productivity and also adult survival rates through this national scheme. 


An overall fairly quiet morning at Thornwick, with a slightly busier start and finish to the session contradicting a comparative lull mid-morning, though morale was boosted by a greasy breakfast sandwich and a bit of sunshine at the midway point! Despite a lot of retraps, we had a good variety of birds for the morning, with a couple of new Lesser Whitethroat and single Reed Warbler the highlights. A recently fledged Dunnock also provided us with an element of cuteness to take away. 


Sunday 13 June was our 4th of 12 Constant Effort Site (CES) sessions run by Ana Cowie and Tony Corscadden and assisted by Sophie Bennet and Saskia Wischnewski, RSPB seabird scientists. 7 new birds were caught: 1 bullfinch, 1 chiffchaff, 1 reed bunting, 1 sedge warbler, 2 whitethroat and 1 yellowhammer plus 7 retraps: 1 sedge warbler, 2 whitethroat, 3 willow warbler and 1 wren. The grand total of 14 birds was low but weather affected by the mostly hot, sunny and windless conditions. Subsequent sessions will be busier as fledglings become active.

The bird featured is a female reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) age code 5 i.e. 2nd calendar year. In autumn 2020 it performed a typical post-juvenile moult of body feathers, lesser, median and all greater coverts and, normally, all tail feathers, though this bird has retained its central pair. The adult type denser, glossier, darker coloured greater coverts and tertials contrast with the paler and worn juvenile flight feathers, primary coverts and alula feathers.