I had the privilege of working with Dieter Oschadleus, the bird-ringing Coordinator from SAFRING (The South African Bird Ringing Unit). He came out to Cousin Island to officially register me through SAFRING based on my level of competency and ability to demonstrate a recognized level of bird ringing, mist netting and database updating.
We started out in the early hours of the morning, putting up three mist nets around the field station in areas where we would be more confident of catching. Dieter made sure that I understood the process and function of putting up the mist nets by myself. Once the nets were up it wasn’t long before we had a few sea and land birds in each of them.
Dieter would stand back and patiently watch my technique, to untangle the mist net from each individual bird. Only once or twice he would step in with a bit of advice but still only minimal as he was assessing how well I would do on my own with the pressure of multiple mist nets and multiple birds.
Once we had successfully untangled all birds we would then head back to our field station and started with the first caught bird to the last. I took measurements of the tarsus, culmen, wings, weight and did a plumage assessment, all under the watchful eye of Dieter. A SAFRING was added to the right leg of each bird that was unringed, any ringed bird was recorded as secondary catch and the same measurements were taken to compare previous data.
We would go back and check all three mists nets frequently and repeat the process over again where Dieter would stand a distance away from me to patiently watch and asses without disturbance.
We spent the whole day ringing and in the end he was pleased and confident with my ability to ring birds on my own. We ended the day with an online registration, where I gained my own ringer’s ID and chatted about the successful catches we had. Dieter has been working in SAFRING for over 20 years and he comes equipped with his own nets, ties, bags and ringing equipment to ‘show me the ropes,’ literally. His knowledge on species, anatomy, plumage and ringing, is engaging. We caught 27 birds that morning, including: White-tailed tropic birds, white terns, lesser noddys, Seychelles fodys, Seychelles warblers (recatch), Seychelles magpie robin (recatch). All in all it was a successful Saturday, thanks to Dieter and SAFRING.
Kara Beggs, Nature Seychelles' Science Coordinator, Cousin Island Special Reserve