This event was originally scheduled for the Saturday but, with an adverse weather forecast, we moved it to the Sunday. Weather-wise, it was a good move. After my test run on the 16th, we decided to only set three sets of nets, two by the feeding stations and one in a small glade between the two feeding stations. We had a strong extraction team out today: with Ellie, Jonny and Steph carrying out those duties, whilst I did the demonstrating. It worked well, with the team doing regular rounds every 15 minutes, giving me enough birds to keep the audience informed and entertained.
I think everybody enjoyed the session (with just the one minor hiccup) and we had a reasonable catch of 31 birds. There were fewer birds than I was expecting, and I am not sure why the numbers were down. I had topped up the feeders on Thursday and they were empty again when I arrived on site, so I filled them again, expecting that would bring them back in. Unfortunately, it didn’t but we did have a steady run of birds coming through, which ensured the ringing demonstration went well.
The list for the day was: Blue Tit 5(3); Great Tit 9(4); Long-tailed Tit (2); Robin 3; Chiffchaff 1; Chaffinch 3(1). Totals: 21 birds ringed from five species, 10 birds retrapped from four species, making a total of 31 birds processed from six species.
All of the children were taught how to safely hold and release birds and they all got to do so for a couple of the birds each. They are first subjected to the “pecked by a Blue Tit” test, to ensure they won’t overreact to the birds when handling them. Also, every adult who wanted to also got taught how to hold and release a bird.
The birding highlight was our first Chiffchaff of the year. As everyone who was there will know, the lowlight (the minor hiccup) was the man who ignored the warning signs set by the net rides and was trying to get a Great Tit out of the net. After being stopped, he chose to assault me in front of some 20 witnesses, one of whom filmed it on his phone. I picked myself up off the floor and just extracted the bird he was close to maiming: I don’t do violence. It has taken five years and about 450 ringing sessions for someone to get violent with me because of bird ringing, so I won’t let it put me off. Thanks to everyone for their subsequent support. I was going to ignore it but, because it was a formal, organised event, and at the insistence of the BTO and the Wildlife Trust, it has now been reported to the police.