Monday, 25 July 2011

Abbotsbury 2011

Friday night saw a motley band representing the Cardiff Ringers rock up at the Abbotsbury Swannery for the waterfowl event of the year. Every two years an event occurs here that sets pulses racing for those of us that get a kick out of ringing the big white bread eating types; the Abbotsbury Swan round up.

Most of the group were Abbotsbury Virgins but would soon have their swan sexing cherry popped. For two of the party, Vaf and Facey, this marked their third tour of duty at Abbotsbury, having served as T, C and now A permits.

The round up is an ideal event to meet up with old friends and familiar faces. For us it was good to see our comrades, especially Terry Coombs, from the Radipole Ringing Group. Terry was responsible for teaching several of us about the ways of the waterfowl and as honorary members of the RRG we were pleased to be wearing their colours. It was also good to be able to meet Luke in person; a fellow Welshmen currently stationed overseas in Dorset.
Our Two Veterans in their away kit enjoying the privileges of
supervising A permits; swan ringing is for trainees.
After being told to meet at 6am for the briefing we were somewhat perturbed to be still waiting by 6:30/45… But the canoeists had been sent paddling to herd the swans toward the holding pens. We land lubbers made our way down to the shore to help encourage the swans into the pens. “We” being the royal we – why risk getting soaked when others are all too eager?

The Eager Masses: paddlers and walkers unite!

Finally, after much shouting of “Will You Get Out Of The PEN!” by an exasperated Prof Chris Perrins, the swans were eventually in the holding pen and ringing could commence in earnest.


The task in front of us... spot the odd one out!

This is not for the faint hearted; the preliminary total for this year’s round up was 771 (the one is important) swans and when you see what you have to do…


video
In the video above, Dr O showing off his new found skill of sexing swans by cloacal manipulation...

By the end of the day the three stations being run by the Radipole Ringing Group had processed 384 swans – practically 50%! Not bad considering we were the last stations in the row. 

An RRG Station in full swing.
We were of course joined by the Cardiff Ringers’ mascot – Ti Thomas. Ti, despite providing teas, grub and the occasional theft of a swan jacket on the day of the round up, had been particularly cheeky the night before and so a punishment was devised. That’s the excuse for generally tormenting Ti. He was wrapped in a swan jacket and to much applause from the assembled 100 or so people, dumped in the mud.

Tied up Tie; BTO please note, his Dad was present and
gave us encouragement permission.

After a break, some grub, and packing away we headed to Radipole lake to join Terry and some of the other RRG gang with duck catching. 7 mallard, a herring gull and a coot later the Cardiff Ringers headed back across the bridge.


Nice Bag Billy Whizz!



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