I want to write about my work for the summer, which is warden of a coastal marsh in Cumbria. Internet’s not great here and I only have my tablet and a phone, so it’s been a bit of a faff getting started but here we go..
Yesterday I went out with two of the guys, Brian and Mike, to ring some lapwings. Despite nearly 12 years of working in mostly bird-related ecology, I’d never actually done any bird ringing until they took me cannon netting with the local bird ringing group a few weeks ago, which was the most fun, and I got to ring a Dunlin!
So we went out on the marsh to find some little lapwing chicks and ring them. This involves driving on the marsh – birds scare very easily when you’re on foot; the adults fly and alarm, while the chicks hide and are a nightmare to find. In a car, however, you have a mobile hide and can get much closer to the birds.
Once an adult with chicks is spotted, we drove as close as we dared, then leapt out to run after the chick, who is frantically waving his/her little stubby wings and chirping adorably, grab them, then carefully take them back to the car to fit a tiny ring to one end.
The ring has a unique number and the address of the BTO on it, and the details of the bird ringed are then recorded before letting the little thing go. Then, should it be captured again or found dead, the details of the ring can be submitted through EU RING allowing the age of the bird and any movement to be recorded. Through this, the lifespan and migration routes of many species have been identified; it’s an epic international study carried out by volunteers, co-ordinated by the BTO in the UK. It is also strictly regulated to avoid harm and inappropriate ringing, so might I study to get a ringing licence in the future?