Ringing - Features

Isle of Wight Ringing Course, June 2011 - by Brenda Cook

The IOW ringing course took place between 19th - 22nd June at the Historic Haseley Manor House, Arreton, Isle of Wight.

Haseley Manor is owned by Anthony Roberts and his wife. They have lived there for just over 10 years during which time they have renovated a great deal of the manor house and designed the grounds and planted for wildlife and birds and particularly for mist netting. Anthony has created areas of water and reed beds, hedges and trees and rough areas all to encourage a variety of birds. There are net rides everywhere. It is an amazing place!

There were 7 Trainers and 12 Trainee Ringers on the course.

Predicted weather for the course did not not look good and it almost looked as if we would not be able to mist net at all. Despite high winds at times and occasional rain we did manage to mist net every day of the course and catch a good number of birds.

We all arrived on Sunday afternoon in time to explore the grounds, find the barn (usually used for weddings) where trainees were to sleep on mattresses provided for the course and using our own sleeping bags. We met all the other trainees and trainers and had a meeting with our mentors and then ate a delicious evening meal cooked by Anthony's wife which was served in the manor house dining room on 2 enormous tables.

Meals there after were taken in the barn, self service for breakfast and lunch. Monday night a helper cooked for us all. Tuesday evening we all went to the local pub for our evening meal and had a very sociable evening.

We were divided into 3 groups depending on our ringing experience. 2 trainers accompanied each group and changed around each day and there was one floating trainer.

Mist netting took place on each of the 3 mornings between about 4.30am and lunchtime. Three different sites were used:- Haseley Manor, Harbour Farm and Bembridge. It was too windy to use Jersey camp where Nightingales breed where my group were ringing on the last day. This was disappointing as I was looking forward to seeing a Nightingale in the hand. We returned to Haseley West site where we had mist netted the first day but this time with Anthony Roberts and Daphne Watson as our trainers for the final day. I learned a different way to furl nets from these 2 trainers which I found very helpful.

We also learned the technique of whoosh netting. Anthony and his helpers have made a huge flat area in front of the manor house by the lake where he has made an enormous whoosh net. We caught 2 different species Canada goose and moorhen. This proved to be very exciting as we all packed into the conservatory and waited for the birds to come to the bait. Anthony pulled the rope which set off the trap then we all had to race down and try to catch the birds before they got out of the trap. I managed to catch a Canada goose which I then ringed.

There were also duck traps, but only a moorhen was trapped over the time we were there.

Three 3 talks were presented to us on Moult, IPMR and Scientific. These were all well planned and proved to be interesting and informative, but were spoiled by the out of focus projector which meant viewing on the screen was very difficult. (this is going to be put right for the September course.)

The trainers were all very enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable and I learned new tips from each trainer.

Total birds caught over the course: 728 birds in total of 31 species. 522 newly ringed and no controls. Bird species from the mist nets ranged from Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Song Thrush, and a variety of finches and warblers, a Woodpigeon, Jay and 2 species of Woodpecker.
The whoosh net managed: Canada geese moorhen and in the duck trap a Moorhen.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it just the right length of time. I find extracting and ringing over several days in a row a very good way to improve and speed up my skills.

One of my highlights was extracting my very first male Bullfinch from the mist net and then ageing and ringing it.

I hope these notes give an idea of how successful and enjoyable the IOW ringing course was for all the trainees who attended and the time and trouble put in by Anthony Roberts and all his helpers and trainers before and during the course to make sure the course ran smoothly.