Friday, 24 November 2017

Ringing Demo for East Lothian Council Junior Rangers 24/11/2017

This demo was a couple of months in the planning as the Junior Rangers diary is a very busy one. Although we had pencilled in another date incase the weather was going to be inclement, although we wanted this date to go ahead as we know how busy they are. The time we had pencilled in for them to come along was 14:00hrs, the forecast the day before predicted no rain....why do we look at forecasts? On the morning of the 24th it now predicted wind & rain in the afternoon, of course we are at the mercy of the weather and we were now uncertain if it was such a good idea to continue. The consensus was we did and hope for the best, if it came to the time when the Junior rangers were due to arrive and the weather took a turn for the worse then we would make that decision to postpone and just have a walk around the site to further their outdoor education about the importance of our site with its SSSI status for its scrub habitats and associated breeding birds.                                                                                                                         

Richard English, Jen Newcombe & Duncan Priddle all work as full time wardens with E.L.C and are out most Friday afternoons with the Juniors....Duncan is a qualified bird ringer and a member of Lothian RG who was already acquainted with some of the juniors that were coming along to-day.
It was windy & raining when we arrived at 13:00hrs to set up our nets prior to the Juniors arriving, it very much looked like we were going to have to postpone this demo and have some very disappointed faces when they arrived.

It was now13:40hrs we were starting to become worried but suddenly the rain stopped....we quickly opened our nets before their arrival....we thought even if we managed to catch a few birds before the rain started again then at least they would experience the thrill of being involved with how we catch and process the birds prior to releasing them while all the time explaining why we do carry out bird ringing and the scientific value behind the BTO ringing scheme.

12 of the regular Juniors had excitedly wanted to come along to our demo, it was also such a pleasant surprise to see our local artist Darren Woodhead come along with his 3 Juniors....15 Juniors on the day had the pleasure of witnessing (at least the majority of them for the first time) wild birds being caught & released by trained bird ringers.

We seen the minibus then heard the Juniors arriving, as it's a few minutes walk from the carpark to where we had set up our base we decided to go and check our nets so that we had a few birds for them to see as they was pretty cold and didn't want them hanging around too long before experiencing what they had come along to see.

As they arrived and hurriedly gathered around our table we managed to bring back a small selection of birds for them to try and guess which bird species it was.....of course most of them knew what they were.....especially when a very excited cry went out from one of the Juniors "wow- a woodpecker" we don't catch a lot of woodpeckers on our site...maybe 2 a year so to catch 3 Great spotted woodpeckers in a 2 hour session was not only pleasing for the ringers but especially for the Juniors, to witness them so close up in the hand was pretty can imagine how many hands went up when asked who would like to release them!

Laura one of our LRG ringers explaining how to
carefully release the Woodpecker
Throughout the 2 hours when the Juniors were along we managed to catch 25 birds of 6 species....Blue + Great tits were also much of a favourite for them to see so close Junior in particular was hoping that we could catch one of his favourite birds and up until the very last moment as we were taking the nets down we managed to catch 2 of his favourite birds which was a Robin.

Duncan explaining how we catch the birds in the mist nets

"Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and myself and Jen were chatting afterwards about what a success it was, there was nothing but positivity regarding the day (once they’d warmed up)". (Richard English E.L.C)

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