Jonny Cooper and I had an interesting session at Lower Moor Farm this morning. To be honest: Jonny was going to have a good day, come what may. Three otters running across his path on his way to the ringing site is about the best start to a morning’s natural history I can think of. That I could hear them wickering away but was too busy putting up nets to go and find them was bad enough, but when Jonny got a second sighting whilst carrying out the first extraction round it was just rubbing salt into my wounds.
I had arranged to giving a taster session to a chap from Gloucester, Hugh, with a view to his taking up ringing as a trainee. This was actually arranged as a birthday present by his daughter, visiting from Vancouver. He turned up with his two daughters and a son-in-law in tow. Nice people, knowledgeable and friendly. This potential trainee really needs a Gloucester based trainer – he knows people at Slimbridge, so that seems like a better route, but he would be welcome to join us if he cannot find a more local trainer.
About 9:30 we were joined by Rachel and Dean from the Well-being team of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and approximately 20 teenagers from Swindon Academy. Apart from some ill-conceived comments about my current resemblance to Santa Claus, led by one of their teachers, it is amazing how a bunch of loud and rowdy teens will quieten down and watch when you show them a male Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrests and Wrens.
A little later we were joined by staff from the Care Farm with two of their charges: Cameron and Thomas. Cameron has had the chance to hold and release birds before but Thomas hasn’t. He was a quiet and withdrawn boy – and a natural at handling and releasing birds. I love the engagement we get with disadvantaged / disaffected youth through the work we do with the Wiltshire Wildife Trust. It underlines to me that you can interest young people from all backgrounds and with all sorts of issues by involving them with nature.
The list for the session was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Treecreeper 1(2); Blue Tit 3(3); Great Tit 2(1); Long-tailed Tit 4(5); Wren 3(1); Dunnock (3); Robin (2); Redwing 3; Blackbird 1(1); Goldcrest 3; Chaffinch 1; Bullfinch 3(2). Totals: 24 birds ringed from 10 species; 21 birds retrapped from 10 species, making 45 birds processed from 13 species.