The HoBO Network
The Holt Blackbird Project would not exist were it not for the fantastic efforts of the team of volunteer HoBOs (Holt Blackbird Observers) who keep their eyes peeled for colour-ringed birds in their gardens and around the town and report them back to me.
Chief HoBO is my Mum, Barbara, who often spends several hours a day looking out of the window and recording the individuals she sees. Since the start of the project, she’s amassed an incredible dataset of 33,000 resightings, making her one of the most prolific colour-ring readers in the country!
However, it’s not just a Leech family project. As the study progressed, I started to receive records from neighbours who has seen birds in their garden and the network has continued to expand throughout the town. To date, 49 people have sent me information about live or dead birds from 54 locations, and new observers are joining the team every month.
Special mention must go to Gill Burden, who started sending in daily sightings from her garden in 2008 and at the time of writing is fast approaching the 10,000 mark. My other regular observers are keen birders Peter & Sue Morrison, John & Carol Wagstaff and Tim & Irene Loseby, plus Maggie Wilcox and her other half Simon who are my eyes south of the bypass! The youngest contributor is Luke Nash, who attends Gresham’s Preparatory School a few hundred metres away from the ringing site and records the birds that have taken up residence in the grounds.
I am hugely grateful to everyone who’s been involved thus far – meeting you all has been as enjoyable an aspect of the study as ringing the birds, and your data are helping to answer novel questions about Blackbird densities in urban areas and the way that birds utilise the town throughout the year.