Monday, October 17, 2011

Bird ringing at the Vaccera by the Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica “Alessandro Ghigi”

God save us from meddling  environmentalists. As a committed birder for the last 40 years and having in my youth and before my awakening to deep ecology helped on ringing operations I was appalled at the treatment meted out to the birds up at the Vaccera yesterday by so-called ornithologists from the national institute for wildlife “alessandro ghigi”. Twenty years ago leaving birds in the nets for  15 minutes would have got your operation closed down immediately, and rightly so, but nowadays there seems to be no control and little concern. Like everything else, care for things gets worse not better. Even so, I would never have expected such a level of incompetent negligence from a ‘national’ institute. Thinking about it though any national institute that has to add on the name of it’s founder on the end already seems to my British eye at least, a bit amateurish. The thing is, if you feel the overwhelming need to interfere with the local bird life to the extent you do your capturing at a popular and well frequented spot like the Vaccera, on a Sunday, at least do it bloody right! Be respectful to the birds and to public opinion by doing a good job. There were a couple of other concerned and horrified people about too, visibly disturbed at the plight of a trapped bird left for too long which does the reputation of competent and professional  ornithologists no good at all.
Personally, this time as every time, I  take the bird out of the net and release it (and bugger the ringers) but while doing so this time unfortunately the ‘ornithologists’ arrived to stop me. If they had been there  in the first place I wouldn't have interfered. They say they were out back of the bar at the other nets (they had far, far too many nets with far too few people (not) manning them) but to all of us it seemed like, as it was lunch time, they came out of the bar (I suppose we’ll never know). Anyway whatever they were doing 15 minutes in the net is barbaric. Fifteen or more minutes in the net then how ever long they keep them in the bag  plus the recording time all adds up. In all the  ringing operations I have seen (admittedly a good few years ago) there’s always been  for each run of nets at least one  recorder and one ringer. All I counted at the Vaccera were four in total, with just the one girl occasionally walking up the line of nets on her own to presumably (but not obviously) check for caught birds. That’s is nowhere near enough.  So Alessandro Ghigi, hows about you get your act together a bit more. Read a couple of manuals, study a bit about avian stress levels. You like birds? Then think about their welfare a bit more and the real-world validity and appropriateness of what you do.  One bird I saw at the top of a net further away from the bar and which I thought was dead, upside down and immobile when we arrived was there for at least twenty minutes but fortunately seems to have managed to free itself (so not dead then:-)). It makes my blood boil. Shameful. This sort of ornithologist needs a good whipping and no supper. Unfortunately this cavalier approach to wildlife has increased all over the place even in the UK with the times birds are left in the nets and bagging and handling times and  becoming longer and longer and the voyeristic almost pornographic activities of the ringers becoming more pronounced.  Time to outlaw this barbaric practice which to my mind seems always to be run by boderline bird-fondling hobbyists rather than scientific professionals. The recording of biometrics by them seems to be standard practice regardless of whether it's of any use or not. Is there a stated purpose to these captures? I presume not as it was not evident at the capture site and despite looking I've found nothing on line. Therefore to what purpose this disturbance? The suffering of the birds would be greatly reduced by limiting handling to only tagging them and noting species and sex. With a  1% recovery rate of ringed birds what's the point in recording a lot of data in the first place unless it's vital data? Grrr! Some animal fondlers are just never happy unless they are probing and prodding and handling and exercising their power over animals that have no say in the matter (good example in shamefully cavalier video below). Reading the bumf put out by this institute it does rather seem that these people  are desperately trying to find some shady scientific justifications for their hobby rather than actually doing something scientifically important. We are destroying habitat at an alarming rate and please someone tell me what the measurements of a birds wing length have on that. It's just  suffering inflicted for no reason. 
Better stop. My liver is about to explode

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