02 September 2014

Minsmere mega demo

Steve Piotrowski writes:

Waveney Bird Club operate regular ringing demonstrations to the public at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk. This is the BTO’s second biggest annual ringing demonstration event of the year, with the Bird Fair at Rutland Water perhaps commanding a greater audience. The purpose of our demo is to explain bird migration and to allow Minsmere's visitors (especially children) to see birds in the hand. The Minsmere demonstrations have proven to be extremely popular with hundreds of people attending each session, some staying for the whole day. 

Collecting valuable data while educating the next generation - Jez Blackburn
The demos are managed by Waveney Bird Club (WBC), which has been responsible for ringing studies on the reserve’s birds for over ten years. The trapping areas are set in different habitats; woodland, reedbed and scrub, to produce a great diversity of species. Carl Powell is WBC’s principal demonstrator and he explains to his audience the migration habits of each bird species, how and why birds are ringed and the benefits of ringing as a conservation tool. The audience is both invited and encouraged to ask questions.

Steve Piotrowski - Jez Blackburn

This year has been exceptional, with record numbers of birds being processed at the ringing table.  With this summer’s final demonstration and training session event on the 4th September still to come, we have already processed over 1,400 birds. This summer’s highlight was a reasonable passage of migrants at the end of August. Many warbler species passed through Minsmere and a proportion were trapped and ringed to determine their destination, stopping off points, longevity and causes of mortality.

Young male Sparrowhawk and a young male Thomas Barthorpe - photo by Ian Barthorpe
The list of warbler species encountered was most impressive and included: Chiffchaffs, Willow, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Common Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats and Blackcaps.  The icing on the cake were two Wrynecks (a small migrant woodpecker that formerly bred in Suffolk) that were trapped (two of the four on site). However, it was the bigger birds, such as the three Sparrowhawks, a Kingfisher and seven Green and three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, that caused the most excitement at the ringing table. We also became reacquainted with some old friends, such as a Marsh Tit and a Blue Tit, that were first trapped at Minsmere in 2009 and are still going strong today. Small birds rarely live more than three years so these “old-timers” are doing well.

Wryneck - Chris McIntyre

Last Thursday, we were delighted to welcome Ellie Zantboer from Ipswich to the ringing demonstrations. Ellie is 11-years old and has been ringing under close supervision since she was eight. As children form most of the audience, Ellie was invited to give a ringing demonstration, which she did with confidence and a great deal of skill. Ellie said "I ringed twelve birds including two Long-Tailed Tits and a Chiffchaff and I loved showing the other children how it was all done!". What was really amazing was how the children immediately communicated with her, asking her questions that they may have been reluctant to ask an adult.

Ellie Zantboer (right) demonstrating ringing to visitors - Paula Zantboer
If you would like to see a ringing demo, the next ringing session will be at Minsmere on 04 September.

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