There is nothing quite like holding wild birds. Their beauty, colours and behaviour never fail to astonish: The blue tit, so common in the UK, turns out to be the most aggressive, pecky little bird imaginable; the goldcrest – the weight of a 20p coin (or a nickel for transatlantic readers) – so tiny; the sparrowhawk, quite a rarity to trap, with its murderous look and talons.
The chance of getting this close to wildlife was one of the factors that attracted me to the surprising and challenging world of bird ringing.
Long before dawn this winter morning, small groups of people all around Britain will wake up to spend several hours in the cold, in marshes, on beaches and sea cliffs. Their goal? To trap birds of as many species as possible in high nets, to measure them, age them, place a lightweight ring with a unique serial number on their right leg and release them, as part of a huge citizen science project which has lasted more than a century now.
©️ BBC 2019