BTO Blackcaps in Cornwall 2017 -18

BTO/Universities of Oxford and Exeter Blackcap Colour Ring and Evolution Project

Colour-ringed Blackcaps – R Phillips

The BTO, Oxford University and the University of Exeter (UoE) in Penryn are currently running a program to try and learn more about our Blackcaps and where they are coming from, using colour-ringing, geolocators and other methods.

This project is essentially trying to understand the evolution of migration and why Blackcap, once a scarce wintering species in the UK, now winters here, particularly in the south-west, in ever-increasing numbers. This will combine both geolocator work and genetic analysis to try and understand if a migratory divide is starting to occur and if we are currently witnessing the evolution of a potentially new group of birds, and maybe eventually the rise of a new subspecies even.

The study involves the ringing of Blackcaps with unique colour ring combinations with the aim of identifying and relocating individuals. We will try and provide updates here, along with updates from those involved in the study on the CBWPS twitter feed.

More information on the BTO project can be found here –


The team would also very much like to hear from anyone, especially in the Falmouth and Penryn area and slightly further afield (Feock and Penpol for example) who may have suitable sites for ringing Blackcaps. Suitable sites include gardens where Blackcaps are present, please contact Robbie Phillips at if you think you have a potential ringing site.

Please send in your sightings of any colour-ringed Blackcaps to Robbie at


Identification tips from the BTO (including a handy video) – How to spot a Blackcap

Enjoy watching your Blackcaps, in the garden or elsewhere – the CBWPS would also like to receive all sightings of Blackcaps in Cornwall to the normal email sightings address – please send to , and  we will also forward on all sightings of colour-ringed Blackcaps to the team. 


News so far – 

  • Over 50 new birds colour-ringed in Cornwall so far and one bird fitted with a geolocator from last year resighted. (12/12/2017)
  • A second geolocator bird has been seen in Cornwall  a second bird carrying a data-logger was recorded in Falmouth in the middle of last week (c13th December).