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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 15:36 GMT
Bird ringing reaches record level
A great tit
The great tit was among the most ringed birds in 2004
A record number of birds were ringed in 2004, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has reported.

BTO volunteers put rings on 881,920 birds in 2004 beating the previous record of 859,252 set in 1995.

The trust said ringing had helped improve the study of bird migration and longevity - the time between a bird being ringed and being found.

A ringed oystercatcher found in Lincs was found to be at least 36 years old - a new record for the species.

Blue tits, greenfinchs, great tits, chaffinchs and swallows were among the most ringed species this year, according to the trust's Ringing Scheme annual report.

'Valuable evidence'

A common tern ringed in Seal Sands, Teesmouth, in 2003 was the BTO's top long-distance traveller of 2004 after it was caught in Lambert's Bay, South Africa, having travelled 9,817km (6,100 miles).

Not far behind was a storm petrel ringed in Yell Sound, Shetland, in 1982 and caught at sea in Namibia, having flown 9,489km (5,896 miles).

Researchers said they had been gaining valuable evidence on bird longevity, with the latest data for 2004 showing birds to be living longer than previously recorded by the BTO.

The oystercatcher ringed in 1968 in Norfolk was found alive in Lincolnshire in 2004, making it at least 36 years-old, beating the BTO's previous record for that species by six months.

BTO fundraiser Graham Appleton told the BBC News website: "On average, less than one out of every 50 birds ringed is subsequently reported to the BTO, so every report of a ringed bird is of value."

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