Sunday, 25 November 2012

Ringing Demo Delights

Strong winds and heavy rain forecast for most of the days of last week with just a narrow window of flat, calm and dry conditions for Saturday until midday before the deluge returned made the planned ringing demonstration for the local Burbage Bird Club look decidedly dodgy to say the least.  Finding a suitable date to suit both parties had pushed the event further back towards the end of November than we would have liked - amid concerns for the effectiveness of the demo both in terms of the number of birds and spread of species that we would have to show them.

We need not have worried - Adam, Masai Mick and Webmaster Mike arrived early to near perfect ringing conditions (for the time of year) of a frosty, slightly misty, dry and calm morning to erect the nets and put the sound systems in place before dawn.  Meanwhile I met the bird club members together with Paul, a potential new SRG trainee, at the entrance to the Railtrack at a more sensible hour before we drove down to the base camp just as the lads were returning from their first extraction round of the nets with an impressive 39 birds.

This first catch included 28 Redwing, a Fieldfare and a Woodcock that Mick had extracted from a net line erected on the reservoir's perimeter grass footpath.  As this was only the sixth Woodcock ringed by us at Stanford and with the last one being some five years ago, the visitors were in for a rare treat indeed.

Mick shows off the Woodcock

The 6th ringed Woodcock for Stanford

The second round of the nets produced just 15 birds and demonstrated the need for erecting nets before the birds start to move off in the hour after dawn - the early ringer catches the birds!

A female Green Woodpecker, albeit a retrap, provided another treat for the demo and brought the cameras out again.  Webmaster Mike announced that this was only the second time that he had processed this species - the first being when he ringed this individual in November last year.

female Green Woodpecker

and from a different angle

Later in the morning a change to the bird calls being played resulted in eleven Lesser Redpolls plus a British control.  This year's total for this species is now 264 and is nearly double the number that we ringed last year.

Several continental Blackbirds with their all black bills and pale edged chest feathers provoked further interest and the number of species continued to increase with Robin, Tree Sparrow, Wren, Treecreeper, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and the usual Blue and Great Tits being processed.

A total of 67 new bird ringed and 20 retraps plus one control of 15 species was the final tally for the morning and was as good as we could have hoped for.  The exact totals, with retraps in brackets, were:

Woodcock 1
Green Woodpecker (1)
Wren (1)
Robin (3)
Blackbird 9
Fieldfare 1
Redwing 32 (2)
Blue Tit (4)
Great Tit 1 (2)
Treecreeper (1)
Tree Sparrow 8 (4)
Chaffinch (1)
Goldfinch 2
Lesser Redpoll 11 (1 +1 control)
Reed Bunting 2

The nets started to come down just before midday and at 1205 hrs the rain started right on cue - for once the five day weather forecast had been spot on.

Thanks to the SRG members and the attentiveness and clear interest of the Burbage Bird Club members a highly successful demonstration had been achieved.

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