Ringing in Lockdown: Adventures in a Chippenham garden (23rd March – 13th May)

The regular readers of the blog will know that between 23rd March and 13th May all ringing away from a ringer’s place of residence was suspended, as part of the effort to control the spread of Covid-19.   I have done a few reports on the activities in my Purton garden.  The following account is by Jonny Cooper whose garden is a suburban Chippenham garden and makes a nice contrast between my village location and his.  This is his account:

I, like almost all ringers, had to turn my focus onto the birds found in my garden.

Garden ringing is a rather different kettle of fish to the standard ringing session. Typically, nets are opened on a more ad hoc basis, with smaller numbers of birds being caught, over a longer period of time. Nevertheless, ringing in the garden can turn up some interesting birds. The full list of birds processed during the period can be found below:

Woodpigeon 5(1), Blue Tit 3(6), Great Tit 5(5), Coal Tit 1(2), Long-tailed Tit 4(3), Wren 1, Dunnock 5(4), Robin 1(6), Blackbird 8(15), Blackcap 2, House Sparrow 4(1), and Goldfinch 4.  A total of 43 new from 12 species,  43 re-trap birds from 9 species, making 86 birds processed from 12 species.

The Blackcaps were a particularly interesting catch: both birds were carrying substantial reserves of fat, meaning they are likely to have been on passage heading further north. The number of Woodpigeon can be explained by the deployment of walk-in Potter traps in which I placed tasty sunflower hearts; the pigeons couldn’t get enough of them.

Now this is perhaps not the most exciting list ever produced. However, it does show the numbers and diversity of birds that will use what is a very average suburban garden and, actually, these last few weeks have made me realise that going forward, maybe I should spend more time ringing in my garden.