Since 2014, Graham has fitted a number of avocet chicks with colour rings at Needs Ore Reserve, near Beaulieu in SW Hampshire (the site is indicated on the map by the red square). Many of these have subsequently produced multiple sightings, giving us a great deal of useful information. The red dots on the map show the extent of their travels in the UK. Two have also been seen in France.

Most pass through Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve and several regularly winter at Poole Harbour in Dorset. Needs Ore chicks have gone on to breed back at Needs Ore and at other sites in Hampshire, along with sites in West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent and Suffolk.

TYPES OF COLOUR RINGS: Graham began using conventional colour rings, in combinations of 4, with 2 on each leg above the joint. The left leg always had Green over Blue. With that combination of colours it was possible to individually identify birds from their rings, whilst avoiding duplicating any other colour ringed avocets in Europe.

When those combinations ran out, the BTO asked him to move on to flags (colour rings with an extension, onto which letters can be printed). Therefore these are what are currently being fitted to the avocets.

The rings may look a bit extreme, but the birds are not hindered by their presence, as is clear by the fact that chicks which have been fitted with colour rings and flags have led normal lives and many have travelled great distances.

Thanks to the ringers, photographers and observers who have helped with the study. A full write up of the findings of the study can be found in the Hampshire Ornithological Society Bird Report 2019.

If you see one of the Needs Ore colour ringed avocets, please report your observation to Graham via the contact details on the website. Other colour ring combinations should be reported through the cr-birding.be website.