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 1st September 2020

A team of 6 visited our core site at Harty. Weather conditions were good being mild and still though the full moon and cloudless sky made for very bright conditions and an expectation that the catch, would be small. The tide was at 01:30 so we were set for a long night.

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Tuesday 21st July 2020

Two teams, operating separately and maintaining social distance, caught birds at two sites at Elmley National Nature Reserve and continued through the night with many of the team not getting home until 04:30.

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Saturday 25th January 2020

Long periods of rain over the winter has made the field at Harty waterlogged and difficult to drive on. After some 50 yards of sliding about we abandoned the cars and carried the gear to the ringing site. With a relatively small team of six we decided to put nets up on only one site – the western pool. The high tide was at about 01.20am on the Sunday morning. With nets up by 11.15 and the sound lures on we began catching straight away and had finished 20 minutes before high tide.

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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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