Nets: Yes and various spring and drop traps
Sound: multiple melodies.
Ringers: numerous from various parts of Germany
For historical and political reasons Germany has three independent ringing schemes: Helgoland, Hiddensee and Radolfzell. Each scheme issues its own ringing permits and rings.
And then there is a fourth organisation: Pro-ring. This wonderful organisation, with members from all three ringing schemes, sells ringing equipment at sensible prices and organises courses (called Praxis-seminars) in various parts of Germany so making them accessible to all ringers. The course topics are frequently in response to ringers’ requests.
Thus last Friday we drove south for several hours into Germany’s industrial Rhineland to participate in a seminar concentrating on catching Skylarks, Ring-necked Parakeets, the use of various spring traps, and sound lures. The course was held on an old farm near Düsseldorf, the farmhouse was traditional: split into two sections - living quarters (our accommodation) and a stable/workshed area that was used for talks, meals, some bird processing and socialising – a key component of such seminars were ringing experience, experiences and concerns (and solutions) are shared.
The night was spent examining, extracting and processing Skylarks from three hoist nets set in a close configuration in one of the farm’s meadows. In the centre of the three parallel ten panel nets was a sound system blaring out Skylark song! In total fifteen Skylarks were lured into the nets. Not a phenomenal number but that is irrelevant; the relevance was the discussion of alternative effective net configurations and why such loud song was used. Such a loud song and an alternative net arrangement will be coming to a meadow near Meisen Wood soon!
After a short sleep – really a long nap – we had a short ringing session and caught just shy of two hundred birds. This was followed by an interesting talk on the potential value of golf courses to nature conservation.
We then adjourned to a Düsseldorf suburb to examine and see in action a selection of spring and drop traps. Two traps were set to catch Ring-necked parakeets and shortly a parakeet was caught. The bird was ringed, with due care and finger protection from the bird’s formidable bill; aged and sexed. More fascinating was how these exotic birds suffer from frostbite, often with lethal results. In Köln, where the parakeet’s population exceeds 30,000, they are known as the “plague birds”, and many residents must be wishing for some severe winters