Last weekend Slimbridge played host to it’s first 'Festival of Birds' and it was a great success. Over the weekend I worked on the ringing demonstrations, this being my first time working on demos. It was a bit nerve racking at first, having lots of public watching your every move, but once I got used to it I quite enjoyed it.
On the Saturday I mainly helped out Brian and Maurice on the mist netting demonstration. The day ran smoothly with a good number of birds being processed, mainly tits and finches. A high proportion of the birds caught were retraps as Slimbridge plays host to a CES (Constant Effort Site) in the summer months. The highlight of the day was a male Bullfinch that was recaptured at the ripe old age of 6 years old, not bad for a Bully!
After the demo finished for the day it was nice to watch the commentated floodlight swan feed which looked stunning in the snow....with lots of hungry Bewick’s!
On Sunday I helped out on the duck demonstration with reserve warden Dave Paynter, Kane and Zen - The Novia Scotia duck toller! Sunday was very busy as the ducks proved to be very popular with the public. It was great to be indoors ringing (complete with log fire!) after spending all day Saturday out in the subzero temperatures, having delightful Blue Tits biting at my numb hands! A good range of species were seen throughout the day including Teal, Pintail, Mallard, Gadwall and my first Shelduck.
It was nice to catch up with fellow trainee Alex Rhodes too who enjoyed ringing his first Teal
Although the weekend was rather busy it was also a perfect opportunity for me to concentrate on learning more about the ageing criteria for ducks.
I really enjoyed my weekend especially getting to ring the UK’s smallest duck (Teal) after having ringed my first Goldcrest last weekend (the UK’s smallest bird!).