THE biggest-ever bird-ringing operation ever carried out in the UK has produced some surprising results. Despite the doom and gloom in many conservationist circles, it has found that wild birds are living longer - and migrating astonishing distances.
Volunteers for the British Trust for Ornithology ringed a staggering 8881,920 birds in 2004 and the trust has just published the results of the project, the biggest ever.
It shows that bird life expectancy is on the increase - which is good news for the countryside, because bird health is a key indicator of environmental improvements - and also reveals the astonishing distances over which birds migrate. One still living oyster catcher is 36!
As would be expected, sea birds travel the furthest to almost 10,000 kilometres (some 6,250 miles) but even relatively small land-based birds like the curlew sandpiper can cover 4,297 kilometres (almost 2,700 miles).