Study Group




About the Study Group

What is the Ring Ouzel Study Group?
A diverse group of enthusiastic ornithologists who share an interest in ring ouzels and who are concerned at the species’ decline in Britain. Although the membership is around forty, the annual meeting in Penrith (Cumbria) is usually attended by 20-25 people and comprises presentations and discussions on ring ouzels and their ecology. Many members have their own study areas, and the meetings provide an opportunity to share information on these, find out about the latest research and to positively influence conservation action for the species.

What are the aims of the group?
- To provide a forum for the exchange of information and views
- To positively influence research and conservation action
- To facilitate and co-ordinate monitoring of the species
- To promote a wider understanding of ring ouzels and the need for their conservation

Why was the group formed?
The group was created through the widespread and serious concern for the species of a number of ornithologists, including RSPB staff, in upland areas throughout Britain. Of principal concern was the fact that ring ouzels were a relatively little known species and were poorly represented by national monitoring schemes such as the Common Bird Census and Breeding Bird Survey. As a result, the conservation status of the ring ouzel was only moderate, because the breeding bird atlases indicated a 27% contraction in range between 1970 and 1990. It was widely felt that the population decline underlying this was extremely serious and, with only an estimated 5,500-11,000 pairs in Britain in 1990, it was felt that a closer look at the status and requirements of the species was needed. Initial (1998) objectives of group were a national population survey and red listed status for the species. The first national survey of ring ouzels was undertaken in 1999, indicating a UK population of 6,157 – 7,549 pairs, and ring ouzel became a red listed species of high conservation concern in 2002. Another early objective was to support the work of an RSPB-sponsored PhD studentship through Cambridge University. Ian Burfield, now with Birdlife International, completed his PhD on the species in 2002, and this important study has been a great stimulus to further work on the species.

What is the history of the group?
The first meeting took place in the Sands Hotel, Brampton (Cumbria) in February 1998, and this led to a follow up at the same venue a year later. Since then, the group has met annually on a Saturday in February/March at Penrith (Agricultural/George Hotel). There is usually a fringe gathering on the evening before to discuss issues.

Various members are engaged on their own population studies in different parts of the country, and there have been presentations on these and from work overseas. In addition, the latest research and plans of the RSPB for ring ouzels are presented and discussed with the group, with RSPB kindly covering venue and catering costs.


Copyright RSPB 2011