Ringing Sandwich Terns

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Inner Farne the other day to watch the rangers ring Sandwich Terns.

Sometimes we take these guys for granted and we do not see all the hard work they do behind the scenes. As well as looking after all the boats that land and answering probably the same question over and over again from the guests that land on the islands, they have to be up early to do the most important stuff on the islands which is all the data.

They record the weather 4 times a day, they do all the bird counts, they keep the islands maintained and on top of all that they ring seabirds and monitor every mortal thing that goes on and all this is very important for the seabirds and the Farne Islands, so when I got the chance to watch what they do I jumped at it.

I arrived at the Islands at 8am and the guys were just finishing of their morning cuppa. We headed up to the Sandwich Tern colony where I meet Dr Chris Redfern at a table setting up ready for the ringing session.

He is head of the operation along with David Steel (Head Ranger) and he keeps an eye on everything that goes on. He also was writing all the ring numbers (Silver) down, along with the Darvic rings.

Darvic rings are to help the likes of myself, to be able to identify the letters a little easier, then I can report them back the David so he can add them to his records. This is only the second year they have used them on the Sandwich Terns and I was told they were hoping for them to last about 5 to 6 years and in this time they should be able get enough information from them to learn more about the Terns.

I know some birders out there who ring lots of birds will read this blog and think different, but from a person who has never seen anything like this before it was just amazing and I have the upmost respect to you all, but I suppose if your used to doing it all the time it becomes second nature, just like me with my boat, you just think nothing of it.

Anyway, the way the guys make sure they don’t have any gaps in the silver tags they put it on, as it could get caught on the thinnest of things. The way they hold the bird. The care and attention they put into make sure they don’t hurt the bird is second to none and I have to take my hat of to that.

Back to the event.

We slowly and carefully walked into the tern colony watching were we put our feet as we did not want to stand on any of their eggs or very small chicks. Once we were in, the guys started searching for the ones that were a bit bigger. The reason for this was that if they were to small the rings would just fall of them.

They got the first one and they wanted to get 32 in total.

One by one they carefully placed them into the box.

Birds eye view.

Putting the final touches to the Darvic ring onto the tern.

There we have it both rings attached checked once again and all good to go.

Looking good and nearly ready to fly.

These ones are ringed and ready to go back into the colony.

After an eventful morning I made my way back to the boat with a big smile on my face and I will be keeping my eyes wide open from now on to see if I spot any of these fella’s. Thank you gang for giving me the chance to learn a little bit more.




2 thoughts on “Ringing Sandwich Terns”

  1. Glad you got the opportunity to see more of the life of the Rangers Andy. It seems like a bit of a reward for all of the "trade" you take to the islands.
    Long may your smile remain 🙂


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