The last few days have been particularly unusual and interesting, which is good because I have something completely different to talk about today.
I regularly go for walks around the local wildlife reserve. Most days if I’ve got time and the weather is OK. I decided to pick up an events leaflet and was surprised to find that there some events of interest. So I took the plunge and decided to book them.
The first event was a bird ringing demonstration. Bird ringing involves catching wild birds and putting a small ring on their leg or recording the numbers if a bird already has a ring. The data is sent to a national project who then analyse it and find out all sorts of cool things. The event started at 5:30AM. This is the best time for birds and also means the public are not around either. It’s not too bad for me either. I got up and had a coffee and was then buzzing through the empty streets on Winchester at 5AM, able to sing along to songs on my iPod without fear of anyone walking past and hearing me. It was so quiet that a pair of ducks were stood in the middle of the main road, looking slightly confused at my presence.
To catch the birds they put up huge nets which the birds can’t see and so fly into. The ringers have to carefully untangle the birds and then take them to the ringing station (a table) to record their details. They write down the species, gender, wing length and measure the weight too. They do this by putting the bird in a little bag with a whole in the end and attaching the bag to a Newton meter. Once everything is recorded the bird is released to go about it’s business.
Weighing and ringing a Blackbird. Those pliers look nasty I know but they just put the ring around the bird’s leg. It’s completely pain-free.
We saw a fair variety of species, about 15 I think. I’m quite an expert in identifying garden and woodland birds and birds of prey and pretty good at lots of other birds too. But not march birds. Most of the birds were various warblers, which all look very similar. I didn’t know how to tell a Chetty’s warbler from a Garden Warbler. Let alone factor in a Grasshopper Warblers, Willow Warblers, Chiff-Chaffs and Sedge Warblers! But most of the other people there did and I felt really stupid, which was silly really. It was a great morning though and quite exciting because you have no idea what bird you are going to catch next. I quite fancy becoming a bird ringer myself in the future but it takes five years to train apparently!
Dunnock, Blackbird and Great Tit in the hand.
The following morning I was back at the nature reserve for a guided walk around it. This guided walk takes you round the part of the reserve which is closed to the public. It turns out the closed bit is about twice as big as the public bit which I didn’t realised. The walk was mostly focusing on the way they’ve managed the site. It used to be a water meadows and they’ve used the system to make it as good a habitat as possible. We also were introduced to the reserve’s cow herd and saw evidence that an otter had been there. Plus I also got talking to the warden who told me about what activities they do with school trips at the reserve. Part of me is always in teacher-mode these days!
Whilst I’m talking about all this nature stuff, I want to introduce you to Martha. She’s a Moorhen who was decided to nest on a tiny bit of river which flows between a car park and a busy road. It might not seem the best idea but I guess there’s not many predators there and it’s quite safe from humans as the river is quite a bit lower than the road level. Martha’s partner, who I have called Mickey (prize to anyone who can tell what their names are based on), is around quite a lot. Although Martha is on her nest most of the time I managed to see that there are 5 eggs in the best and I suspect they are probably due to hatch soon as I’ve not seen her leave the nest at all. Here’s a quite blurry photo of Martha:
The rest of my time lately has been filled up with doing assignments. This is probably the first time where I have three on the go at the same time. I have presentations for both maths and history next week and I also have an essay to write for history, which I have yet to even start. It’s only a short one though and I’ve done all the reading so hopefully I can knock it out tomorrow. But still, I’m under heaps of pressure to get everything done in time, let alone to a decent standard. In one week’s time though I will have finished my second year at university so it’ll be worth the hard work now! I’ll be back soon by which point I might even be more stressed!