On Wednesday, Ellie Jones, Jonny Cooper and I did a session at Lower Moor Farm. We were joined for the session by Dr Ian Grier. Ian was my trainer and helped me to achieve my C- and then my A-permits. He came along to assess Ellie for her advancement to a C-permit.
Once the autumn migration is over Lower Moor Farm tends to become quite quiet: we have had fewer than 50 birds per session in previous October / November sessions. It was a pleasant surprise to end up with a catch of 71 birds.
The list for the day was: Treecreeper (1); Blue Tit 5(5); Great Tit 2(1); Long-tailed Tit 6(6); Wren 8(1); Dunnock (2); Robin 4(3); Redwing 3; Blackbird 2; Goldcrest 1; Goldfinch 3; Lesser Redpoll 6; Bullfinch 5(3); Reed Bunting 4. Totals: 49 birds ringed from 12 species; 22 birds retrapped from eight species, making 71 birds processed from 14 species. It was a good catch of Lesser Redpoll and a few Redwing, but the catch of Wrens was quite unusual for the site: three adults and six juveniles.
At about 10:30 we were joined by a couple of staff and one of the attendees from Lakeside House. Lakeside House works in association with the adjacent Care Farm and sensory garden to offer young people with special needs the opportunity for education and work experience in nature conservation, farming and horticulture. The students and users of the Care Farm take a lead in developing the farm and have opportunities to grow confidence and develop their independence. This lad was delighted to get close to a few birds and was good at identifying them. He was shown how to safely hold and release birds. Particularly, he was delighted when a Bullfinch sat on his hand for a few seconds, after he had released it, and before it flew off. Birds sometimes do this when they don’t realise that you have actually let them go.
I am delighted to say that Ian agreed with my assessment, that Ellie is at a stage where she is skilled enough to work with a greater degree of independence, and to advance her to her C-permit. There are four levels of working within ringing: helper; T-permit holder; C-permit holder and A-permit holder. Helpers are allowed to work with permit holders with a suitable endorsement, usually those who hold an A-permit with a trainer endorsement. T-permit holders are official trainees, who are registered with and licensed by the BTO. They are registered to a named trainer and can only work with their trainer, or other ringer with a training endorsement (I had a helpers and trainees endorsement as a C-permit holder). C-permit holders are able to work independently, within limits set by their trainer, and their trainer remains responsible for their actions. Finally, A-permit holders are fully independent ringers, limited by a range of specific endorsements to their licence decided by the BTO. There is no set time for advancement from one stage to another: it is all about how much time people can devote to learning the skills required and how quickly they can master them.