by Mike Nattrass
Hauxley Ringing Station, established in 1963, was for many years the jewel in the crown of the Northumbria Ringing Group (NRG), being a veritable haven for migrant passerines both common and rare. Situated in a small wood and allotment gardens behind Low Hauxley village, on the headland a mile south of Amble, it was until the late 1980s an oasis of cover providing both shelter and food for tired migrants coming in off the North Sea. Some spectacular arrivals of species such as Robin, Redstart, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Goldcrest and Pied Flycatcher have been witnessed over the years. A long list of rarities caught includes Thrush Nightingale, Paddyfield Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Bonelli’s Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Crested Tit, Golden Oriole, Two-barred Crossbill and Little Bunting.
The Ringing Station
Both migrant and resident breeding species caught in mist nets and Heligoland trap are ringed, weighed and measured before release. Numbers ringed annually range between 459 in the poorest year (1996) and 3,506 in the best year (1982) with a 52 year mean of 1,529. These figures include birds caught at a Constant Effort Site in Hauxley Reserve and at nearby East Chevington Reed Bed. The grand total of some 79,519 birds ringed (77,090 full grown, 2,429 pulli) between 1963 and 2014, has produced over 500 recoveries and controls across the UK, in Europe and on the African continent.
Some birds caught at Hauxley
Through the extensive planting and growth of trees on and around adjacent Hauxley Nature Reserve and caravan site, in the aftermath of opencast mining in the 1970s, the ringing station was by the late 1990s no longer an island of cover, but still attracts a wide range of migrants in smaller numbers.