A morning spent bird ringing at Die Oog, Bergvliet. photographs also by Gavin Lawson.
Die Oog in Bergvliet, Cape Town is where Felicity Ellmore often rings birds as one of her venues. On 18 December 2011, a rainy late spring morning she was busy there. This is an early morning in the life of a ringer, to give one an idea for those who do not know what it is about.
The new Coots in their drab grey suites were wondering about investigating all the surroundings.
There is a view towards Constantiaberg, which is in the rain clouds. In the foreground is a rehabilitated wetland from the overflow of the lake in the direction of the M3 freeway.
The explosion of Western Leopard Toad toadlets at Die Oog in November 1999 charged the interest in this species by many people academics, conservation officials and the general public. Una Hartley from Lakeside was the person who worked for about 5 full days saving them from drowning in a local swimming pool as they mass streamed from Die Oog.
A very unusual occurrence.
Felicity hammered in the stakes to support the guy ropes of the mist net poles. One of the mist nets was in place in no time at all. They are usually put up in the same position so that data can be consistent over a period of time.
Checking the published distribution of a species in her reference book and then keeping a check on the far side net to see if there is anything caught.
In between the rain showers a rainbow appeared with the sun peeping out for a minute or so. This Cape Weaver was a retrap and the first customer.
Have to measure the leg length for the records, “look at the beautiful skin patterns on the feet and the long toe nails”. One can see the ring numbers stamped into the metal. The condition of the feathers and the stage of moult is also assessed.
And the next customer, this time an unringed Common Waxbill. The correct ring size and type is selected from the box of tricks, the number is first recorded in the register.
Squeezing the ring closed around the leg. A check is made to see that the ring is free to move on the leg and that it is properly closed. The process does not harm the bird, or damage the leg. The ringers have to watch and practice plenty of times before they are allocated a license to practice bird ringing.
Then the wing and tail feathers are inspected measured and described in the register. The bird is weighed and its sex is also recorded. Then it is set free.
The information gathered helps scientists study the movement and dispersal of visiting or resident birds. There is much more too.
If you are interested in helping, the ringers always need assistance. This is the closest you will get to seeing the different species of birds, without binoculars, photographs, films, the internet or books.
What to do if you find or see a bird with leg rings?
If you find a dead or an alive bird, with metal or plastic rings, please note the following;
the place (co-ordinates) if you can
your contact details
Send the information to;
University of Cape Town,
ph 021 650 2421 or 021 650 49982
fax 021 650 3434