When people start bird ringing the first thing they have to do is to find a trainer. Anybody who wants to become a qualified ringer must have a permit issued by the British Trust for Ornithology who administer the scheme on behalf of (eventually) DEFRA. Trainees start on a T-permit. They are only allowed to ring if accompanied by their trainer, or another ringer with a permit endorsement allowing them to train. The next step is called a C-permit. This allows trainee ringers to work unsupervised, but they are still responsible to their trainer for their activities, who are, in turn, responsible to the BTO. This is an important step for any trainee, as they start to work solo.
My trainee, Steph, has been working with me for 2.5 years and is a truly competent ringer. When she became pregnant she was concerned that she would not be able to get out ringing for a long time. However, I knew she was skilled and reliable enough for me to recommend her for her C-permit, which was duly granted by the BTO. This enables her to ring in her garden.
The garden backs onto fields along the long edge, with scrub running along between the field and the garden. There are a few small trees along either side of the garden and plentiful bird feeders.
If you have a good garden then garden ringing is the best of all worlds: all the amenities on tap, birds to ring and you can keep an eye on baby. Thursday was Steph’s first go in her garden. I popped over to support for the first couple of hours, but she had already caught her first birds, and processed them, by the time I arrived.
Over the course of the morning she caught Dunnock 2; Robin 1; Blackbird 1; Chaffinch 1; House Sparrow 12. All were new birds, as you would expect, the Robin, one of the Dunnocks and two of the House Sparrows were juveniles. This morning she caught two Blue Tits: one a juvenile.
So a nice, quiet start to Steph’s solo ringing career: here’s to many more!