Whilst I was watching Springwatch one night it talked about bird ringing and how you could take part. Bird ringing is where you catch birds in mist nets, ring them with a metal ring that is uniquely-numbered, take measurements such as wing length and then age them by looking at various parts of their plumage. The bird comes under no harm when this process is carried out. It gives us amazing data and without it we wouldn’t know the fluctuating populations of UK birds and birds all around the world in fact.
Early last year I got in touch with a local trainer, Sam Bayley and started ringing in Horsham, West Sussex. The first bird I ringed was a Great Tit, which I was extremely excited about. One of my highlights from ringing at North River was to watch Barn Owl chicks being ringed (I also got to hold a chick), hopefully I am going to be able to actually ring them this year as well! Now I ring at Cissbury Ring in Findon, West Sussex with my new trainer, Val Bentley. The ringing site is in a small wood on a hill and is best in Autumn when we get huge influxes of Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Recently I have ringed Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Goldfinch.
On a typical day ringing we firstly set the mist nets up, normally at around 5:45 and then we do the first net round. If a bird is in the net we carefully extract it and then place it into a small bag to make the process as stress-free for the bird as possible. After checking all the nets we sit down and start to process and ring the birds, if the bird is a re-trap (a bird with a ring on already) we record the number and process it. Every 20 minutes we check all of the nets and carry out the same process.
One of my favourite birds I have processed was a re-trap Kingfisher. Although common they are one of my favourite birds because of their amazing plumage and robotic head turning whilst you are holding them! A year into my ringing I have mastered how to handle and process. However now I need to carry on practising extracting birds and ageing birds. In the future I would love to have my own ringing site and to ring seabirds of course!