Hen Harrier Christmas Cards

Harry the Hen Harrier

Findlay Wilde is a remarkable young man. At only 12 years old he is a passionate conservationist, dedicated bird ringer and is more determined to inspire change than many adults would be.

This year, Fin has been actively involved with the Hen Harrier campaign and Skydancer, a project that aims to raise awareness of the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers and earlier in the year he employed his family to create a model Hen Harrier, whom they affectionately named Harry.

Harry travelled with the Wilde family to Hen Harrier Day on 10th August where, in the typically british weather, he helped remind the sodden event-goers why they were there. As well as this, Harry was present at Rutland Water at Birdfair back in mid August. Having been on a bit of a tour, Harry is now spending the winter at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands to remind people of the problems Hen Harriers are facing.

Findlay (right) with Andy Clements (Director of the BTO) and
Harry the model Hen Harrier in the background

It is estimated that there is enough habitat in England to support up to 300 breeding pairs of these wonderful birds of prey, yet only 3 pairs nested this year. This is unacceptable and if we aren't careful, these beautiful creatures could soon become extinct as a breeding species in England. We cannot allow this happen and rather sadly this brings me nicely onto the point of this post.

Findlay is selling Christmas cards which feature Harry the Hen Harrier on the front and all the profits made are being donated to the Skydancer project. The cards are £1 each and I sincerely urge you to purchase as many as you can because the money is going to such a fantastic cause.

The Hen Harrier Harry Christmas card design

Hazeley Heath Ringing

Hazeley Heath ~ 15th November 2014 ~ 

I think it is safe to say that the weather has been most unkind over the last few weeks and so despite the fact I got my C permit almost a month ago, the weekend just gone was my first chance to get out and exercise a proper ringing session on my own.

After a lot of discussions with a fellow ringer, it was decided that all the usual nets would be put up because if it got too busy I could always turn off the tapes and furl the nets.

In the dark on Friday evening, MC and I set the nets. Everything went smoothly and all the nets went up fine and were furled for the night.

My alarm went off at 5.30 on Saturday morning and after packing some food and my hat & gloves, my mum and I headed to Hazeley. Once I arrived, I headed to the nets to start opening them.

There is a small Redwing roost in some of the trees next to one of the net rides so once I began to hear them starting to move around, I put on a tape to try and attract them to the nets. This didn't work too badly and I ended up with a grand total of two. Not quite as many as I was hoping for, but certainly better than none! I then spent the next 8 hours ringing or doing net rounds. It was a great session and I caught some lovely species too - Redwing, Marsh Tit, Lesser Redpoll & Treecreeper were the highlights!

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

When I finally left at 15.00, after my mum and her friend had helped me carry all the kit to the car, the total stood at 104 captures including 46 re-traps. The species totals are as follows (re-traps are in brackets):

Blue Tit - 27 (12)
Bullfinch - 3 (2)
Chaffinch - 2 (1)
Chiffchaff - 1
Coal Tit - 2 (4)
Dunnock - (7)
Goldcrest - 1
Goldfinch - 4 (1)
Great Tit - 6 (10)
Lesser Redpoll - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 3 (3)
Marsh Tit - (1)
Redwing - 2
Robin - (2)
Song Thrush - 3
Treecreeper - 1 (1)
Wren - 2 ( 2)

C Permit Upgrade

C Permit ~ 23rd October 2014 ~ 

Last Thursday I was issued my C Permit for bird ringing by the British Trust for Ornithology. This allows me to ring with the use of mist nets independently, without any supervision.

It has taken me 3 years of weekly dawn starts to get to this point but I couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement of my parents who have done the chauffeuring for most sessions!

I also couldn't have done it without my trainer, of course, and so I am very grateful that he decided to take me on when he did,  as I know he was concerned at the time about taking on a 13 year old trainee due to reliability, determination and interest!

Anyway, yesterday I was kitted out with rings and was lent a 9m net and accompanying poles so that I could get started in my garden. When I got home at about 15.00 I decided to put the net up for a while to see how I got on. It took me quite a while to sort out the guy ropes but I got there in the end and the net went up without a hitch. Fast forward 25 minutes and I'm bombing it out the back door in my socks to make sure that the Great Spotted Woodpecker doesn't get out! What a way to kick off being a C ringer. As well as the Great Spot, there was also a Goldfinch - another lovely species!

I decided to open up the net up this morning as well and caught 7 Blue Tits, 1 Goldfinch and 1 Robin. It is furled now as the wind picked up a bit too much but if it dies down, I may open it again later.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) 

Lastly, I just wanted to thank everyone else who has helped me with my ringing so far - there are far too many to name individually, but you know who you are!