Monday, 6 June 2011

Dippers and Spoggies

Bird ringing is one of those activities that encourages and rewards both exploration and experimentation. With this in our minds and hearts we got our jabs, packed our rucksacks and set off for the wildlands of the Rhondda Valley. On arrival we managed to commision the services of four native sherpas, heralding a warm welcome to 'Gods' Country'.

With the sun in our eyes and the breeze at our backs, we set off to investigate the rivers and streams of Cwmparc in search of the 'White Breast of the Water' bird known locally as 'Bronwen y Dwr'.

Luckily, two of our sherpas were also trainee bird ringers, so Rich and I could 'supervise' their efforts of an ad-hoc net erection safely from the bank. A short 40 minutes and a bacon sandwich later, we decided to let the trainees pack up and try further down-stream.

How many trainees does it take to put up a net?

We decided to demonstrate to our admiring students how a net should be put up in such a situation, stressing the importance of both swiftness and style. Needless to say, shortly afterwards a pair of dippers were caught and ringed.

Shortly after our success, our team fell victim to the social obligations of the in-laws and we lost two of our native tour guides. We decided it would be best to explore the local area in search of the local habitats that served to house the local sand martin population so visible across the valley skies.

On failing to find such habitats, we decided to punish the youngest of our sherpas with a well established procedure known as the 'outdoor head swirly'. This made us all feel much better about the day and restored honour among the ranks

Dunking the doughnut

The local custom of the area involves feeding all travellers and ringing birds in ther gardens. Our sherpas were traditional in such matters and insisted on taking us to their home. We obliged them and hungrily gobbled down the local delicacies of ham and cheese sandwiches, pasties and chocolate chip muffins.

We were told that mist netting was more successfull if accompanied by an episode of Star Trek. This turned out to be true, a short 10' net in the garden caught 3 juvenile house sparrows (spoggies).

On our journey back to the coastal plains of Cardiff, we reflected on our day and agreed that exploration and experimentaion make for a great mornings ringing. Thanks Martin and Teifion (sorry about dunking your head in the stream).


  1. "Dunking the doughnut" Photo puts me seriously off about going to ring with you guys! (lol)

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