Bird ringing

So last post I admitted that birds aren’t the be all and end all of British wildlife.  But to get back to the real world, and not just my own little buggy bubble, birds are where its at in this country.

Most people who claim to love the countryside, or do their bit for conservation know their birds, mammals and probably butterflies.  These are the obvious animals around and the easiest to classify. Not to say these people are taking the easy way out, but British wildlife is such a huge topic that a lot of people get no further than that. And as a result a lot of publicity, fundraising and more prominent research is focussed on birds.

I say this to point out how easy it is to forget about little insects, scaly snakes, scuttling spiders and all the rest. I also say it to try and prove I’m not just jumping on the band wagon when I let it slip I’m starting to train as a bird ringer.  But whilst out on Skokholm I had the opportunity to handle a range of birds (whilst closely supervised by licensed and hugely experienced ringers I should add) and get a much better look at them in the hand. Seeing a bird in the hand is an amazing thing to do, highlighting how fragile and small most species are whilst letting you really appreciate those features you struggle to see through your telescope.  And although it takes years of commitment to train as a ringer I would recommend it to anyone right now. It includes endless early mornings and remembering myriads of obscure facts and figures but the chance to understand each species to another level is definitely worth it. Bird ringers are always in demand, especially those under the age of 30. And when you ring birds you don’t just do it for the fun of it, the information gathered helps us understand bird populations, their movements and how to help those species in decline.  Recent work is even tracking nightjars and cuckoos to finally work out where they go on migration every single year.  Questions that haven’t been answered for hundreds of years alongside questions that have only just been thought of, all answered by giving our birds that little bit of bling.



Reed Bunting

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