Its official!!! After a year and a half of almost non-stop training and studying, I am delighted to have received my brand new Ringing license! I am now free to Ring whenever and wherever I want on my own without anybody having to 'hold my hand' as it were. I am absolutely chuffed to bits to have reached this level, and in a relatively short space of time, but there is absolutely no doubt I've put the hard work and effort in to get to this point. I just want to say a big thank you to John, Andy and Adrian for all of their help, it is much appreciated. Now, as John said the other day, this is where the fun REALLY begins!
As the Ringing Hut is closed down for the winter, we begin to look elsewhere for opportunities to Ring until we return in the spring. Some of the best places are at feeder stations, as a regular supply of food ensures a regular supply of birds! So for the last two weekends we've been visiting the garden of one of our good friends, Peter Hogg. He very kindly allows us to put a net up and use his garden as a temporary Ringing Station while he sits and watches from the comfort of his favourite armchair. He gets good numbers of the commoner garden birds, as well as the odd unexpected goodie, and it makes for a pleasant couple of hours. Today seen me Ring my 700th bird, a lovely little Blue Tit taking the honours. I'm pretty sure it won't be the last Blue Tit I Ring!
On wednesday morning a Bee-Eater was briefly seen in amongst a flock of Starlings on a housing estate in Sunderland. Not something you hear every day! Despite extensive searches not much of the bird was reported after that day. However, I was at home this afternoon when I got a phone call from John saying 'you better get down here, this bird is showing brilliantly!'. He certainly wasn't wrong! As I pulled up in the car I could see the bird sat right out in the open on a television aerial, seemingly oblivious to the other birders who were already there watching it. I joined Steve who was busy taking some photos and we watched the bird feeding and then moving from house to house as it was being harassed by a local Blackbird. It was a stunning bird, its beautiful colours looking oddly out of place in the middle of a british housing estate! Its the first time I've seen this species in the UK as I wasnt birding at the time of the Bishop Middleham pair, and am delighted I caught up with this bird.