Young country diary: A bird in the hand

Yorkshire Dales: My morning helping with a study of local birds will help them in the future – I even got to hold them

We got up before sunrise and went over the fields to join John and Beryl, the bird ringers. They were setting up long nets and we put speakers around the nets, playing birdsong to attract the birds. The birds couldn’t see the nets and so they flew into them. John and Beryl carefully untangled the birds from the nets (the birds weren’t hurt) and we carried them in little bags to the table with the ringing equipment.

Each bird was checked and John put a tiny metal ring on its leg. I read out the ring number and Beryl wrote down all the details. My favourite moment was when I set the birds free. I held each bird with a finger on either side of its head, and put my other hand underneath. Then I let go of the neck, and the bird flew away.

Sometimes a bird would stay on my hand. Once a willow warbler stayed for ages, and Beryl had to check it wasn’t hurt. But eventually it flew away happily. It felt nice when the bird stayed on my hand, but the bird’s little claws hurt a bit.

We helped John and Beryl ring 79 meadow pipits, two willow warblers and one whitethroat. The records that Beryl took get sent to the British Trust for Ornithology and this way we find out what is happening to the birds and how we can help them.
Margot, eight

• Read today’s other YCD, by Teya, 13: ‘My walk in an English paradise

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