The Isle of Wight Ringing Course 2019: a report by Colin Baker

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2019 has seen Gower RG trainees travel far and wide in order to achieve more experience to ready themselves for permit applications. These travels have taken them to Germany, a lengthy stay at a bird observatory in Denmark, to storm-petrel studies and an observatory in Portugal, and shorter trips to visit experienced trainers in Suffolk, Wiltshire and the New Forest among other places. In this post, born again ringer Colin Baker (who lapsed as a C Permit holder some years ago but has recently regained his permit), reports from the Isle of Wight ringing course …………….

While the Gower RG was hosting the Welsh ringing course recently I was 200 km away attending the Isle of Wight (IOW) ringing course. The course is based at Haseley Manor which is owned by one of the IOW RG members and has been developed over the last 20 years into a wonderful habitat for birds. Lakes have been dug, reed beds created and thousands of trees planted over former agricultural land.
On the four mornings of the course we were ringing until lunchtime either at the manor or one of the group’s other sites with a rotating team of trainers. Afterwards, except for the last afternoon, we then attended a lecture. One was about moult, another recording moult and one on the science of bird ringing. Following this we had classes/demonstrations/workshops on the ringers’ manual, setting mist nets, taking less used biometric measurements, fitting of larger rings, removing rings, use of sound lures, using traps, more unusual mist nets and whoosh nets. The evening swallow roost attempts were not very successful but enough were caught over two evenings for all that had not ringed swallows to get a bird each. There was a plan to attempt a gull catch at a rubbish tip on the afternoon of the arriving day but the previous few days weather had made the site unsafe for cannon netting so it was unfortunately called off.
There were 16 attendees split into 4 groups and each allocated 2 visiting trainers. One of these two trainers in your group would be your mentor who fed back daily your ongoing assessment from the daily trainers meetings. Another IOW trainer made up the ringing group for local knowledge of the site and doing the scribing. The groups were well thought out. One had the C ringers, some of who were being assessed for an A permit, next the most experienced T permit holders who wanted to be assessed for a C permit, then my group who were T’s looking for more experience and another group of T’s who were quite early in their training.
The accommodation for participants was dormitory style in the ‘barn’ which was much more luxurious than it sounds as it had a large kitchen and toilet facilities. Showers were available in the manor. There were mattresses to sleep on or they had tents you could borrow (rescued, discarded ones from a music festival). Food was good and plentiful and vegetarians/vegans well catered for.
I really got a lot from the course working with other ringers, trainers and seeing differing methods. There was a positive, constructive vibe and it was also commented that our group worked particularly well together. The classes/demos were really interesting and I made some friends and connections there too. Redstart was a new species for me to ring, bringing my total since returning to ringing to 40 species, and I got to fit a darvic ring to a moorhen which as a keen watcher of colour rings was nice.

I’d certainly recommend the course to anyone,and can see myself returning there in the future.

Colin Baker
September 2019
Haseley Manor grounds are large enough to run two CES sites. Leading in this
photo is Tony Galsworthy, my mentor at the ringing course.


IOW RG member Elle scribing at Pump Lane with myself ringing and Colin Wearn checking.
redstarts caught at Kingston Priory. I ringed one.  The other was a control ringed on 29th August at Stanford Reservoir, Northants. (10 days
photo of attendees, visiting trainers and the Isle of Wight RG members with the
manor house behind.
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