Bainton ringing summaries
For earlier years see Bainton ringing summaries
Ringing at Bainton
The ringing sites at Bainton are both on private land, one owned and managed by Bainton Fisheries and the other managed by The Langdyke Countryside Trust on behalf of the National Grid.
The sites have been ringed since the late 1980s and countless thousands of birds have been processed. For many years, Richard Wakeling was the principal ringer here, assisted by Chris Hughes and Richard Eckton and when Richard retired from ringing around a dozen years ago, Chris took over lead ringing responsibilities. Latterly, the site has been used to train other ringers. Both Lloyd Park and Michelle Househam trained here, Lloyd having gone on to become a trainer himself and Michelle having progressed to C permit status. Both sites are CES sites although it is doubtful if the damp scrub will continue as such due to health issues with the ringers involved.
The sites are in damp scrub/reedbed and on the dry heath. They support a considerable diversity of species, not just birds, but these are the main interest for me. Over the years, the habitat in the damp scrub as evolved with serial succession slowly drying out some areas and the reedbed becoming more ‘compressed’. The heath though is mainly scrub and grassland with small areas of woodland along the edges and, due to the poor nutrient levels in the soil, has not changed so much. It is a good site for most warbler species, woodpeckers, thrushes, tits and Nightingale although the latter has declined steadily over the years, partly due to loss of habitat through an overpopulation of deer. This is being addressed. The damp scrub also has good numbers of warblers (mainly Reed with Sedge only making a guest appearance these days – it was once abundant here) and has also turned up some less obvious species like Green Woodpecker and Treecreeper.
It has been interesting to see how the sites have changed and species have come and gone over the years. In the late 1980s, who would have thought that Cetti’s Warbler would be caught here yet they are every year now and breed here too. As mentioned above, Sedge Warbler, once one of the commonest warblers to be caught in the damp scrub, have all but disappeared and catching even one a year is now seen as a bonus. As well as the usual ‘bread and butter’ species, more unusual species include Hobby, Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher with Turtle Dove, seen annually, never quite having found the net!
Probably the site’s greatest claim to fame is that it holds the record for the oldest known Reed Warbler in Europe, an adult male ringed on 25 July 1988 and retrapped here for the last time on 16 July 2001 – 12 years, 11 months and 21 days from when it was first ringed. Site faithful for most of its life, it did one year succumb to the allure of Rutland Water where it was controlled at one of the CES sites there.
Setting the nets on a spring morning and listening as the dawn chorus sparks into life must surely be one of the great benefits of being a ringer. Who wouldn’t want to get out of bed to be serenaded by several Nightingales, all competing with each other? I know how fortunate I am to be able to ring here with the splendid co-operation of the land owners and site managers.