'Well done old friend' - Ringer catches bird he tagged eight years ago

The reed warbler tagged by Justin Zantboer is expected to have covered 50,000 miles in its lifetime.

The reed warbler tagged by Justin Zantboer is expected to have covered 50,000 miles in its lifetime. - Credit: Justin Zantboer

An early morning visit to ring birds set up an unexpected meeting for an Ipswich man who was reunited with a bird he tagged eight years ago.

Justin Zantboer, from Ipswich, is a licensed bird ringer and often spends his mornings before work at Trimley Marshes, near Trimley St Mary. 

On Thursday, a reed warbler was caught in the mist net that was already tagged. 

The uniqueness of the situation is to see a warbler aged around eight years old.

Because every ring is unique it was easy for Mr Zantboer to look up the reed warbler's information and he says he has seen the bird over the years at the marshes. 

Mr Zantboer said: "It showed he was ringed in May 2015 because we ringed him in 2015, he was born before then, at least in 2014 or possibly earlier. 

"It occurs quite a lot [catching ringed birds] but not birds that old. Last week we caught eight reed warblers from last year

Most Read

"It did bring a tear to my eye. I thought 'it's him again' because we caught him last year. 

"He's cheeky, he won't stay." 

Reed and sedge warblers begin migrating to the UK from April through to August or September, with reed warblers setting up nests in reeds.

Due to the bird's age, Mr Zantboer estimates his "old friend" will have travelled around 50,000 miles in his life.

He said: "You are talking 4,000 to 5,000 miles every time, twice a year. The mileage is clocking up, it's incredible. They won't just be flying from A to B, the mileage he must be doing."

Mr Zantboer has been ringing birds since 1988, a pastime he shares with his daughter. 

He thought he knew the bird, having caught him in the mist net last year.

Tweeting a photo of the warbler, Mr Zantboer said: "This lad was ringed back in May 2015 and has yet again made his way back to Trimley SWT! This will make him at least EIGHT years old and means he’s covered at least 50,000 miles in his incredible lifetime. Well done old friend."