Treswell Bird Ringing Group 50th anniversary

by | 19 February 2023 | Retford, Wildlife

A pioneering Nottinghamshire Bird Ringing programme, which has inspired others across in the UK and overseas, is celebrating 50 years of success.

The volunteer bird-ringing programme, designed to collect vital data about bird species in Treswell Wood, near Retford, was launched in December 1972.

The programme was spearheaded by former Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Chairman, John McMeeking MBE. A year-round ‘constant-effort’ programme was subsequently developed and has run continuously from 1978 – making Treswell Wood one of the most recorded wildlife areas in the UK.

In December, current volunteers, old colleagues, friends and family gathered at the wood for a celebration. Members present included Peter Kirmond, who was one of the first members in 1978, and Joe Smith, the newest member to join and learn the ropes passed on by generations.

Records collected by volunteers at Treswell Wood, the first reserve to be bought by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, are submitted as part of the British and Irish Ringing Scheme organised by the British Trust for Ornithology. Ringing produces valuable data that helps us understand and protect birds. Research into survival rates, migration patterns, health of populations, morphology and life history traits can all be informed through ringing.

Speaking on behalf of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, Chief Executive Paul Wilkinson said: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of our charity and the environment sector and there is no greater example of the skill, effort and dedication that volunteers bring to nature conservation than Treswell’s ringing group. Their tireless work down the years, whatever the season and whatever the weather is an inspiration to us all and the data they have collected is invaluable – the team were carrying out ‘Citizen Science’ decades before the term was coined.”

Birds are caught as they fly into mist nets that are set-up temporarily. The birds lie unharmed in the nets until they are extracted by skilled ringers. A small metal ring is fitted to new birds and a set of measurements are made of the bird before it is released.

As well as adding to the national and international data sets for species, information collected by the volunteers also helps to shape management decisions within the wood, to ensure that key species have access to the right mix of habitat.

Further details about the group and how to get involved can be found at or email

For details about Treswell Wood visit