After the driest April I can remember, it seems as though May is trying to make up for lost time. However, the weather forecasts have been dreadful: dreadfully inaccurate and forecasting dreadful weather. Having had our CES session two rained off to the last possible day, I was up at 3:50 yesterday. There was no way I was going to repeat that this morning, (I like to have some sleep) so I was delighted that the forecast was for it to rain until 6:00. I set my alarm for 6:30 and got up to brilliant sunshine and no sign that it had recently stopped raining.
That said, the Firs is known as the Braydon Bog for a reason and it was back to its boggy best! I was filthy by the end of the session, despite almost constant warmth and sunshine: all it did was dry the mud on my clothes more quickly.
My last session at the Firs was rained off, so I was pleased that this one could go ahead. Both the last session and this were timed to coincide with a visit from Christine from the Wildlife Trust. I had to let them down last time, because of the weather, so was very pleased that this could go ahead. Christine is the Trust’s Education & Well Being Officer and works with local schools, providing outdoor experiences for schoolchildren who are either excluded, or deemed to be disruptive or vulnerable. I have done quite a few of these sessions and I always find them thoroughly enjoyable, and I always end up wondering what is supposed to be wrong with these children. One of my current trainees came out of this process and is a really competent and reliable worker. I think I might have identified another from today’s group. He is going to talk about it with his parents. To enable me to work with young children I have been CRB checked and have a “Young Persons Training Endorsement” on my ringing licence.
I was on site for 7:00 and had the nets open by 8:00 (luxury!). The children arrived at 9:30. It was never very busy, and I only caught 14 birds, but the youngsters all had a chance to see several species close up and all bar one had the chance to learn how to safely hold and release a wild bird. It should have been all of them but the last bird, for the last of the crew, managed to escape from the weighing pot. That it was the best bird of the day for the assembled group, a Nuthatch, made it doubly unfortunate.
The list for the day was: Nuthatch (1); Great Tit (1); Wren 1(2); Robin (2); Blackbird 2(2); Blackcap 2; Chiffchaff (1). Totals: 5 birds ringed from 3 species and 9 birds recaptured from 6 species, making 14 birds processed from 7 species.
There was nothing astonishing in the catch but the youngsters all thoroughly enjoyed the contact. The two teaching assistants who had brought them along were very pleasantly surprised at the lad who was, clearly, the most extrovert of the group and how he was so calm and gentle when shown how to handle and release a Robin. As he let it go and he watch if fly away he said “Sick!” and, being down wiv da yoof. I know that means “really good”. We all packed up for midday and got away soon after. I had a short debrief with Christine and found out that, by happy coincidence, the next time this group are out is at Lower Moor Farm next Wednesday, when we will be carrying out CES 3, so I shall look forward to meeting up with them again.
I left the Firs in brilliant sunshine and within 400m was in the middle of a torrential downpour which lasted for nearly an hour! We were lucky!