Soggy in the Name of Education

A sharp wind gusted, tugging at the edges of a gazebo, rustling through the leaves on the splendid oak tree above. The grassy heath rippled, shades of greens, yellows and browns shimmering like waves that rolled across the open field. The sky above darkened, a rumble in the distance and the heavens opened. The torrent began; huge, fat rain drops that soaked you to the skin even under the shelter of the trees, splashing onto leaves and bending the heads of nettles, flowers and grasses.

The downpour was brief, patches of blue sky soon appeared and the sun burst through the clouds, sending rainbows through the droplets dripping onto the gazebo and the soaked ringers now sheltering beneath. Hoping that the wonderful summer weather had not put off too many people, or birds for that matter, from venturing out the mist nets were opened and the event celebrating the nature of the Breckland region began.
The soggy ringing demo team with the first bird of the day
(a dry blackbird!)

The ‘Wild About the Brecks’ event on Barnham Cross Common in Thetford had storytellers, mini beast hunting, art and craft activities and a bird ringing demonstration. Although all rather soggy the volunteers persevered and some members of the public braved the weather to build nest boxes, bug homes and bird feeders, and if they were lucky get up close to a bird…

If the weather was not always on our side, the birds certainly were! Although 19 birds may not sound like a lot, given the weather and the fact the site is not usually ringed, it was certainly enough to keep us busy and the public enthralled. Once again the corvids stole the show, with the highlights being a feisty but beautiful jay and a young magpie.

Showing beautiful wing of a feisty jay

Iridescent greens, purples and blues shimmer in the black feathers and contrast starkly with patches of brilliant white, making the magpie a subtly beautiful bird, which few people expect. Their highly intelligent nature means we rarely catch them in mist nets as they figure out those tricks quickly. A jack of all trades, with a cheeky nature for thieving bright objects, magpies have been much maligned and often incorrectly blamed for the decline of garden birds.

For me, this beautiful, intelligent bird must also surely have its place in the grand scheme of things….

Very happy with my first ringed magpie!

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