Swale Wader Group


The Swale Wader Group is an informal group of amateur birdwatchers and ringers (banders) who study the waders and other birdlife of the Swale in North Kent, UK.

The Group has operated ringing sites at a number of locations around the Swale since 1960 and has ringed over 26,000 birds in this time - mainly waders. Regular Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) surveys are carried out in the area to monitor populations of visiting estuarine birds the breeding populations of the local waders and birds of prey are assessed, too.

All the members of the Group are volunteers and the ringing is carried out as part of the national bird ringing scheme organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

The scientific aims and results of our efforts are explained on this website, together with some of the highlights of our work from the last 50 years.

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Opportunities exist for ringers with all permit classes to take part in wader ringing throughout the autumn. Our season normally begins in mid-July and runs through to the end of the year. Anyone interested should contact us by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through the contact form.

Ringing sessions

Tuesday 16th November 2021

A retrap Bar-tailed Godwit was the highlight of a disappointing night trying to catch waders at Harty. The male Godwit was ringed 10 years earlier in November 2011. At ten years it is only middle-aged for a Godwit. We have retrapped four older birds, the oldest being 23 years and 9 months.

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Tuesday 2nd November 2021

A team of seven ringers went to Harty on the evening of the 2nd November. Conditions looked "perfect" as the night was still, dark and clear. We only put up five nets across the two pools as we were a small team. We caught 59 birds.

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Sunday 17th October 2021

A team of 10 ringers visited Harty on the evening of the 17th October. Conditions were generally good with negligible wind and mild temperatures. Only the full moon in a cloudless sky was not ideal.

Despite the moon the final catch was a respectable 84 birds including two retraps; a Black-tailed Godwit from October 2012 and a Redshank from September 2017.

The new birds included 47 Dunlin, 25 Redshanks (10 of which were colour ringed), 5 Black-Tailed Godwits, 3 Bar-Tailed Godwits, an Avocet and a Green Sandpiper.

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Other news

January 2019 WeBS counts

Over 40,000 birds were counted on the Swale on the midwinter WeBS count on January 21st by our team of 15 observers. Wigeon were by far the most numerous species with more than 15,000 birds.

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