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Good or bad PR?

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Old Saturday 27th December 2014, 11:39   #1
Qingcol
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Good or bad PR?

Is it just me, or do others find this proliferation of 'trophy type' images of birds held for ringing, a little disturbing? I'm not talking about images of useful plumage/bare parts details, I'm talking about the spaced-out looking specimens, grasped tightly by both tibia, then passed around to all and sundry. I'm very surprised that the BTO don't appear to give any guidance on this, as it's a no brainer their limited, targeted ringing studies would find few critics. As it is, rightly or wrongly, there is a danger of giving the impression (Come join the fun, attempting to put a ring on every bird in the country, in the hope of screening out a rarity to pass around)
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Old Saturday 27th December 2014, 13:41   #2
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I'm not sure where you want to go with yet another anti-ringing rant.
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Old Saturday 27th December 2014, 14:50   #3
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Is it just me, or do others find this proliferation of 'trophy type' images of birds held for ringing, a little disturbing?
It isn't just you.
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Old Saturday 27th December 2014, 15:17   #4
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I'm not sure where you want to go with yet another anti-ringing rant.
Russ
I'm not anti ringing; I'm asking if 'recreational' ringing, plus the blanket ringing of all species can be justified in modern times, given the still unknown casualty rate. If there is nothing to hide I don't see any valid reason not to have an active forum.
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Old Saturday 27th December 2014, 15:38   #5
Tarsiger
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Sadly its been done before here;maybe do some searching. I'm pretty sure anyone involved may not comment but would find the term ' recreational ringing' pretty offensive.
All you'll do is get divided opinion (unsurprisingly)
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Old Saturday 27th December 2014, 18:31   #6
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Sadly its been done before here;maybe do some searching. I'm pretty sure anyone involved may not comment but would find the term ' recreational ringing' pretty offensive.
All you'll do is get divided opinion (unsurprisingly)
Russ
You are probably right Russ, although I still regard ringing as a privilege, not a divine right, never to be questioned. I fully understand some of the people involved being over protective of that privilege, but they don't have a monopoly on considering something offensive. Have we really reached a point that, we dare not ask a question concerning some aspects of ringing?
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Old Sunday 28th December 2014, 09:57   #7
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Sadly it appears that we have!! Time then to ask some, perhaps one at a time to keep the thread open for a while. Even a question that brings no replies can speak volumes to those who still have an open mind.
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Old Monday 29th December 2014, 14:16   #8
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One of the commonest replies to any question deemed to be , vaguely critical, by ringers is "Our number one priority is to the 'welfare' of the bird" this usually delivered with an angry indignation, while, at the same time searching your expression for any minute, tell-tale flicker of disbelief, indeed it used to be the first thing you would read in The Ringers Manual. These day's we can all see images on some blogs, where this is obviously not the case, birds would not be subjected to more stress and lack of feeding time, by being passed around for trophy style photo opportunities, they would be released as soon as possible. It all sounds a bit of a hollow sound-bite anyway, it's not rocket science to be able to list the many dangers to a bird's welfare from being trapped and ringed, but almost impossible to list a single positive, to any individual, or species 'welfare' by trapping and ringing it (Hanging it over a delousing jar maybe)
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Old Monday 29th December 2014, 14:26   #9
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Originally Posted by Qingcol View Post
Is it just me, or do others find this proliferation of 'trophy type' images of birds held for ringing, a little disturbing?
It's not just you. I commend you for your post; well done

and I dare say if the poor birds in question could have their say, they would do the same too
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Old Tuesday 30th December 2014, 10:48   #10
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It would be a great help to someone like myself (A critic of 'some' aspects of ringing) to have some idea of the normal percentage of bird casualties encountered in the trapping and ringing process, this would, at least, enable some basic evaluation of data gathered, versus casualty rate. As it is, even this is an impossible ask, it would be simple enough for a ringer to record every death or injury, although it would be no more than a guess as to what percent would be prepared to do this. If a bird survives the process then flies off strongly, this is no guarantee that it has not been badly affected, most will seek the nearest cover, then quickly resume normal activities, but not all. Unless a ringer has a video of the mist nets, they cannot be certain there were no predator attacks in their absence, a Mink can bite out a bird leaving nothing but a tiny hole in the netting, it's also possible for a Sparrowhawk to remove a bird leaving no trace of the event, even Water Rail can rob, most usually from the lower part of the net. A ringer using mist nets in the autumn cannot be sure of trapping entire family groups, especially when on migration, in the time it takes to process the trapped individuals, the rest could be miles away, never to be reunited, this could have serious consequences for the survival of those youngsters, I just don't know. I have not even touched on possible, adverse consequences from the use of playback, pulli ringing in some species, constant effort sites and canon netting.
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Old Wednesday 31st December 2014, 06:09   #11
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Hi Qingcol,

As a ringer myself, I agree with much of what you say. The ringing community as a whole has the attitude "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". As we have an internationally acclaimed ringing scheme, the assumption is that all is well. It is my hope that the new technologies becoming available will reduce the number of birds we need to ring and at the same time greatly increase the information collected. This is already patently apparent for larger species where more sophisticated tags can be fitted that can transmit information collected, removing the need to recapture the bird. For some smaller species where recapture is fairly likely tags that record, but cannot transmit so requiring recapture of the bird, have been very successfull. Unfortunately there are a lot of species where such techniques have not provided workable solutions. The other problem is the major cost of the new technologies. Most ringers are basically unfunded - have to pay for the majority of their ringing equipment and activities from their own pockets - and cannot afford more sophisticated tags.

As to your first comment - on trophy images - the BTO have issued guidance on this, and using social media generally, urging ringers to be cautious of what we post. It is much more difficult to give more specific guidance, as each situation is different.

Mike.
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Old Wednesday 31st December 2014, 11:11   #12
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Hi Qingcol,

As a ringer myself, I agree with much of what you say. The ringing community as a whole has the attitude "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". As we have an internationally acclaimed ringing scheme, the assumption is that all is well. It is my hope that the new technologies becoming available will reduce the number of birds we need to ring and at the same time greatly increase the information collected. This is already patently apparent for larger species where more sophisticated tags can be fitted that can transmit information collected, removing the need to recapture the bird. For some smaller species where recapture is fairly likely tags that record, but cannot transmit so requiring recapture of the bird, have been very successfull. Unfortunately there are a lot of species where such techniques have not provided workable solutions. The other problem is the major cost of the new technologies. Most ringers are basically unfunded - have to pay for the majority of their ringing equipment and activities from their own pockets - and cannot afford more sophisticated tags.

Mike.
Hi Mike,
Many Thanks for your reply. I agree with much of what you say! I just wish that the process you outline would speed up a little.I don't think that it's enough any longer, to keep on repeating the same old mantra (Ringing is essential for conservation) it is not, we have a choice now. The Victorian egg collectors and taxidermists, in their time, provided us with an invaluable amount of useful data (I still reach for The Handbook Of British Birds on a daily basis) they could have used the argument (Oh we can't stop shooting and mounting, the data collected is an essential tool for future conservation, plus our Bio Blitz shooting parties promote interest among the young, and people who would not normally see wild things close up and in detail) We have reached a point, armed with the data we already have, we can decide to worship a pile of, mostly unused data, or direct our rapidly developing technologies towards truly respecting what we have left. If blanket ringing stopped we could easily develop less invasive, advanced photographic and sound techniques, applied with good old fashioned observation, to satisfy the citizen science demand, these, in the end would provide less slanted data. Perhaps the greatest achievement would be, for once, we actually did put the welfare of wildlife first, and we really had progressed as human beings. If the welfare of a bird, or species is truly our top priority, then all we need to do is allow it the space in its chosen habitats and protect it from disturbance. Amassing a pile of useful data a mile high, using methods known to carry an unknown percentage of casualties, might well be good for our recreation and wellbeing, but will never protect a species from inevitable human overpopulation, or a changing climate.
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Old Thursday 1st January 2015, 11:23   #13
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Originally Posted by citrinella View Post
Hi Qingcol,


As to your first comment - on trophy images - the BTO have issued guidance on this, and using social media generally, urging ringers to be cautious of what we post. It is much more difficult to give more specific guidance, as each situation is different.

Mike.
That is reassuring, frankly it's more than I expected, at least it shows that they do consider it bad PR. Still the emphasis appears to be (Careful what you post, not what you do) even that appears not to be working! It is perfectly understandable for an enthusiastic, inexperienced trainee, intoxicated by the newly found privilege to do the wrong thing; you would expect some detailed guidance to come from the scheme, or the trainer, for something that could affect public opinion.
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Old Thursday 1st January 2015, 13:41   #14
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Will the people using their IT skills to attack me for the content of this thread on other social media, leaving me with no right of reply please have the guts to put it in to print on this thread, for all to judge, or at least have the decency to allow me to reply on that media.
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Old Thursday 1st January 2015, 21:19   #15
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Although not overly familiar with the exact protocol of ringing (or these trophy shots), I am of a mind if a net is up, it should be monitored continuously while in use, by the person who installed it, and I do agree. The bird should be captive in as minimal a time as possible if done at all. Pictures are rather unnecessary (imo) unless you need to document some kind of oddity.

Taking more time outside the allotted task seems more on a personal choice, opposed to an activity of any value.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2015, 08:57   #16
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In the French scheme - under the umbrella of which I am "un bagueur", having formerly been a ringer in UK and Israel and a bander in Canada - the ethos is rather different. Ringing is only undertaken within a number of protocols devised to meet explicit requirements for information. Birds trapped that do not fit in with the protocol one is engaged with may be ringed, but too many "hors theme" might be a cause for raised eyebrows.

Rather recently, "bagueurs" are now required to record, and submit with their ringing records, all instances of birds dying during a ringing operation, such as ones killed in nets from attacks by predators or by handling accidents. The objective is indeed to determine if ringing operations do have any appreciable effect on populations under study. Personally, I can see a bonus here, in that such a requirement could keep ringers perpetually awake to the potential for things to go awry during ringing operations.

While it is undoubtedly true that many ringers are involved as much for the activity itself as for the scientific information generated, it is a pastime/hobby less damaging to wildlife than any of the so-called, country sports. In France, for example, one may legitimately set stone-crush traps for ground-feeding passerines, shoot a number of birds protected elsewhere in Europe, and kill Pine Martins as "nuisible". Even more liberal hunting occurs in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta - never mind what occurs in countries outside the EU such as Lebanon and Egypt. In this context I would propose ringing, along with photography of its 'trophies' as a less harmful way of subsuming the hunting instinct in those who may have it.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2015, 10:45   #17
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If you have concerns about the usefulness of bird ringing then I would suggest the article "Is bird ringing still necessary" by Ian Newton in the October 2014 issue of British Birds (BB 107:572-574) is worth reading.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2015, 10:46   #18
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While it is undoubtedly true that many ringers are involved as much for the activity itself as for the scientific information generated, it is a pastime/hobby less damaging to wildlife than any of the so-called, country sports. In France, for example, one may legitimately set stone-crush traps for ground-feeding passerines, shoot a number of birds protected elsewhere in Europe, and kill Pine Martins as "nuisible". Even more liberal hunting occurs in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta - never mind what occurs in countries outside the EU such as Lebanon and Egypt. In this context I would propose ringing, along with photography of its 'trophies' as a less harmful way of subsuming the hunting instinct in those who may have it.
I don't think that any reasonable person would disagree with that John!! Although I don't really see any of those involved in ringing who find the word 'recreational' so offensive happy to wear a ringing smock with (At least it's better than shooting) across it. Seriously, the question was, is it good PR for a scheme aiming to set high standards, or how do you justify blanket ringing and constant effort, to monitor populations, when they will inevitably alter those populations (Numbers of songbirds will fall as predator numbers will rise, given the smallest advantage in the never ending arms race)
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Old Friday 2nd January 2015, 17:29   #19
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... how do you justify blanket ringing and constant effort, to monitor populations, when they will inevitably alter those populations (Numbers of songbirds will fall as predator numbers will rise, given the smallest advantage in the never ending arms race)
Colin
I think you oversimplify the "arms race" in terms of how the balance is so delicate as to be overturned by temporarily inconveniencing a breeding adult at a CES site, through brief handling (I set myself a 20-minute net round, so a typical bird would spend perhaps 10 minutes in the net and a further ten minutes to be processed).

I'm also puxzzled by your notion that if prey numbers fall, predator numbers will rise. In fact, all ecological studies show the contrary, though omnivorous predatory species such as crows may be able to sidestep the dependency on prey numbers by switching to other types of food.

Last edited by John Morgan : Friday 2nd January 2015 at 17:31.
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Old Friday 2nd January 2015, 19:36   #20
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I think you oversimplify the "arms race" in terms of how the balance is so delicate as to be overturned by temporarily inconveniencing a breeding adult at a CES site, through brief handling (I set myself a 20-minute net round, so a typical bird would spend perhaps 10 minutes in the net and a further ten minutes to be processed).

I'm also puxzzled by your notion that if prey numbers fall, predator numbers will rise. In fact, all ecological studies show the contrary, though omnivorous predatory species such as crows may be able to sidestep the dependency on prey numbers by switching to other types of food.
Hi John,
I'm really talking about the rise and fall, at the constant effort site, affecting the quality of the data. You are not factoring in the unknown net casualties, plus the disruptive effect. and physical presence of the nets, tending to aid predators like Sparrowhawk in their particular hunting style. This temporary but regular netting (In my view) is more than enough to increase the density of that predator visiting the site, in the short term, and in the long term in much the same way as a farmer's field of wasted maize will sustain a higher than normal Corvid population, until they move out of that area with a taste for fresh eggs in spring. I agree that over a larger area, the arms race would tend to keep in balance. But at the sites, the songbirds would gradually decrease. I would think that by now, there should be enough data from constant effort sites, to prove or disprove this theory?
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Old Friday 2nd January 2015, 19:59   #21
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I would be very surprised if the BTO did not have data about the number of casualties directly caused by ringing at CES sites, and one of the reasons for running them is to monitor increases and decreases in populations (separating out the causes of a change is more difficult).

Whilst accepting that part of the reason for raising your concerns here is to see what other people think, have you directed some of your concerns directly to the BTO? They might be able to put your mind at ease by providing some of the data that you mention? Without doing that much of the response here will at best be anecdote, and otherwise just "what if" type suggestions.

Regards,
James

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Hi John,
I'm really talking about the rise and fall, at the constant effort site, affecting the quality of the data. You are not factoring in the unknown net casualties, plus the disruptive effect. and physical presence of the nets, tending to aid predators like Sparrowhawk in their particular hunting style. This temporary but regular netting (In my view) is more than enough to increase the density of that predator visiting the site, in the short term, and in the long term in much the same way as a farmer's field of wasted maize will sustain a higher than normal Corvid population, until they move out of that area with a taste for fresh eggs in spring. I agree that over a larger area, the arms race would tend to keep in balance. But at the sites, the songbirds would gradually decrease. I would think that by now, there should be enough data from constant effort sites, to prove or disprove this theory?
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Old Friday 2nd January 2015, 23:10   #22
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There was a guest post by Dave Leech (BTO) on Mark Avery's blog recently, relating to many of the questions raised here. There was a comment underneath by a reader named Tony Phillips asking some of the same questions about e.g. mortality and the value of ringing 100,000+ Bue Tits in a single year, to which Dave Leech gave a detailed reply.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2015, 10:11   #23
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I would be very surprised if the BTO did not have data about the number of casualties directly caused by ringing at CES sites, and one of the reasons for running them is to monitor increases and decreases in populations (separating out the causes of a change is more difficult).

Whilst accepting that part of the reason for raising your concerns here is to see what other people think, have you directed some of your concerns directly to the BTO? They might be able to put your mind at ease by providing some of the data that you mention? Without doing that much of the response here will at best be anecdote, and otherwise just "what if" type suggestions.

Regards,
James
Hi James,
I think that the value that comes from an open discussion on BirdForum, in the main is transparency. Any frank exchange of views, from both sides of the argument, can do no harm at all to birds, or bird populations. Many involved in ringing will simply adopt the moral high ground and choose not to take part, naturally the more you are involved the more you tend to push your own agenda, how often do the experts get things wrong? Are they really saying things like (We need to keep on ringing thousands of Blue Tits, in case there is a drop in Blue Tit numbers) by the time the data was processed there would be nothing they could do about it, but many Blue Tits would have suffered, or been killed to produce that data.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2015, 10:16   #24
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If you have concerns about the usefulness of bird ringing then I would suggest the article "Is bird ringing still necessary" by Ian Newton in the October 2014 issue of British Birds (BB 107:572-574) is worth reading.
Many Thanks' Paul, I did not subscribe 2014 I will try and get hold of a copy.
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Old Saturday 3rd January 2015, 19:12   #25
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It's not just you. I commend you for your post; well done

and I dare say if the poor birds in question could have their say, they would do the same too
I too echo your sentiments.
This subject has been raised before and it nearly caused World War 3!
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