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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Trapped & Ringed on PURPOSE - what should the ethics of ringing be?


Yesterday, two local ringers took it upon themselves to trap and ring the DESERT WHEATEAR that has chosen to overwinter on the tiny beach at Thurlestone in South Devon. They came along with a spring trap and placed it strategically in a position where the bird regularly feeds. They then placed mealworms in the trap to entice the bird in. They were clearly delighted when their efforts worked and went charging over the shingle, racing to extract their prize from the trap. This is purposeful, targeting ringing in my book and an outrage - I am expecting a viable explanation from the British Trust for Ornithology. Upon handling, the two ringers discovered that the bird, a first-winter male, was in relatively poor health, with a Fat Score of just 1 after 5 weeks on site.
Now, I am not against the ringing of birds per se, as it can be very beneficial for birds and their habitat at times and can go a long way towards conservation but this particular episode is very, very concerning. I don't see any benefits from ringing a lone vagrant and certainly don't want to encourage this sort of behaviour. Twitchers and bird photographers get a hell of a lot of bad press for 'harassing' rare birds from these so-called 'scientists' but it seems a national organisation can allow this to happen unchallenged. I am awaiting a response from the top honcho of the BTO but I won't hold my breath as I am still to this day to be told why they sanctioned the trapping of a vagrant churring Nightjar close to me, a territorial bird that was never seen again after being manhandled 'illegally' (in my view) - another targeted trapping.
I have been supporting and championing the efforts of the BTO for the past three years in supplying them nearly 100,000 records of bird data but I am afraid if I don't get answers on this, that support will be withdrawn as of 1st January 2017. The ball is in their court. We cannot have one rule for ringers yet another one for twitchers and bird photographers