19 Aug 2022

Dungeness Ringing Pliers

My first set of ringing pliers were made by Lambourne in the 1970's - I still have them today and occasionally use them. I remember my trainers buying them for me at the annual BTO meeting as some pairs were better than others and they picked me out a good pair!   Their jaws are narrower than newer pliers and I find them easier to use on birds with short tarsi such as Swallows. I recently had the chance to examine an even older pair of bird ringing pliers. A pair of Dungeness ring ing pliers developed by the legendary Bert Axel who later moved from Dungeness to manage the RSPB reserve at Minsmere. I met hime there in 1974 just before he retired.

He became warden of Dungeness RSPB in 1952 and developed these pliers to assist with the fitting of bird rings. In those days the rings were stamped on flat sheets and had to be shaped using the specially designed tip of the pliers.  Dungeness Bird observatory still have the original pair he developed in 1954 along with Harry Cawkell. 

It was nice to see a piece of bird ringing history that I hadn't seen since the 1970's! Thanks to Kieran for letting me photograph them.

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