A tale of two C Permits: the 2020 ringing year for Colin Baker and Jo Conway

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The final instalment of ringing summaries from 2020 covers the activities of another two of our recent C Permit holders, Colin Baker and Jo Conway. Both have been very active during 2020, with Colin ringing at sites at Nantymoel, near Margam Moors in Neath Port Talbot and on the Afan River catchment, and Jo concentrating on her garden site (Penlocks) in Quaker’s Yard, Treharris.

Accounts from Colin and Jo follow.

Nantymoel, Ogwr Valley

This site is a very small garden at Colin’s partner’s house. Traps are mainly used – spring traps around the feeders and Potter and Chardonneret traps on the ground, along with short mist nets (3 m) to target ground feeding species. 211 birds ringed of 14 species were captured, with the proportion of goldfinch and siskin in the catch being pleasing, and the undoubted highlight a male brambling in October.

The only bird controlled at the site to date has been a blue tit ringed in June at Heather Coats’s garden in Crynant that had moved the approximate 20 km to Nantymoel by October.

A breakdown is as follows:

Railway Site, Neath Port Talbot

Colin also has a site not far from Margam Moors. This is characterised by wet alder woodland with a small area of reed bed. Initially he created space for a single 60-foot (18 m) net, but extended this in the autumn. A second ride runs through willow scrub with a reed filled reen alongside. He has installed feeders on one of the rides.

Despite its small size the reedbed held breeding reed and sedge warbler and had a moderate number of migrants pass through. The scrub ride was seldom used, but did produce a kingfisher and a sparrowhawk.

The overall total of 429 ringed of 27 species was excellent, particularly considering this site was only typically used when he could not get out with the Group.

A breakdown of numbers is as follows:

Dipper Ringing

Many of the Gower Ringing Group attended the Welsh Ringers and Nest Recorders Conference in February. Colin was particularly inspired by a talk on dippers given by Steph Tyler, and had just received landowners’ permission to ring on the Afan River before being scuppered by the first lockdown (by which time only one bird had been ringed).

Colin has joined forces with Wayne Morris, who also colour rings dipper in Glamorgan and is working to set up a BTO Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) study.  He ringed a further five dippers in the autumn following the temporary relaxation of restrictions. Other birds caught on these sessions were 6 grey wagtail, 2 kingfisher and a collared dove. Having developed a much better knowledge of the rivers locally, Colin will be working with GOS members from Port Talbot to locate nests and re-sight colour ringed birds as Covid restrictions allow in 2021.


Jo began using the garden for ringing in November 2019, as one of her key targets for progression towards an A permit was ringing on her own (under ‘remote supervision’). The garden is quite open, with the majority being lawn). It is bordered by woodland to the south (which leads down to the river Taff) and a tree-lined railway corridor to the west.  There are some small areas of bramble scrub within the garden as well as some small hedgerows and mature beech and oak trees. Other habitats include a vegetable patch and a wildlife pond which Jo dug in April 2020. The wider landscape has considerable woodland.

Jo has aimed to hold weekly / fortnightly sessions over the year, and spent most days ringing during a thee week furlough period in April 2020. During ringing sessions she has typically usually used 120 feet of net. Feeders are present at all net locations. She has experimented with net locations, with the better ones being:

  •  A wooded ride to the south-west of the garden. This net has caught the largest variety of birds, including jay, treecreeper, chaffinch, blackcap, redwing, goldcrest and nuthatch. This net has had some escapees (much to her despair) – magpie, carrion crow and buzzard (twice)!
  • The pond net, located between the pond and blackcurrant bushes. This net caught Jo’s first house sparrows, a species which hadn’t been seen in the garden until this year, but are beginning to establish themselves.
  • The “siskin” net, located out in an open area with a feeding station. This net has caught over 35 siskins since mid-December 2020. Increased feeding effort with good quality seed has encouraged a siskin flock to the garden.

In 2021, Jo aims is to continue feeding and to experiment with ground feeding and using traps.

A breakdown of numbers at Penlocks is as follows:

Photos from the respective sites follow.

Colin Baker & Jo Conway, January 2021

Male siskin at Penlocks
An aggressive jay at Penlocks
Coal tit at Penlocks
Kingfisher on the River Afan
One of Colin’s colour ringed dippers from the Afan
First year male sparrowhawk.
Nuthatch on feeder at Nantymoel (with spring trap behind)
Male brambling. The highlight of the year at Nantymoel


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