Looking back: a year as a trainee

I’ve been lucky enough to train for my ringing permit at an internationally renowned reserve with a huge variety of projects and species. Each year has been different and has brought diverse learning experiences along the way. The reserve is an incredibly beautiful place to ring and never fails to deliver a stunning sunrise or misty morning. Ringing activities have included boxes, CES, RAS and demos with many members of the ringing team.


Photo: Amelia Woolford

On a particularly quiet CES, not totalling more than 35 birds for the session, it was time to take down the nets. I have reached the point to happily take down nets alone and my trainer (Lloyd Park) goes one way and me the other around site.

So far we had no birds to close the session, as I came to the final double set of 60ft nets in the reedbed I spotted one bird in the lowest shelf at the very end. That morning we had been talking about some of the rarer migrants other UK ringers had been picking up and Lloyd had been disappointed not to have had at least one. As I approached the net I knew we had something a bit rarer than a reed warbler! I shouted across site for Lloyd as I knew he’d be very pleased with the catch, however he did not hear me, so it looked like this one was for me!

The wryneck has to be one of the strangest and most interesting birds I have ever extracted, moving its head side to side and squawking at me as I did so.


Photo: Amelia Woolford

I heard Lloyd approaching and quickly popped the wryneck into a bag and had great fun making him guess the species, as usually the shoe is on the other foot. It was a great treat to see him ring this brilliant bird, complete with a fist pump, after so many hours of hard work recording the reserve’s species and maintaining the site over the years.

By the end of the year I had extracted over 500 birds and rung nearly twice as many of all shapes and sizes, it can’t be said that my training has not been thorough. Species have included barn owls, warblers, woodpeckers, treecreepers, residents, ducks, waders and sand martins! I hope to be taking my assessment for my C permit in the summer 2016 and can’t wait to see what else we catch. A special thanks to Lloyd and Chris for their support and teaching!