Between 2014 and 2020 the British Birds Charitable Trust awarded a number of grants to young birders to help defray the cost of ringing equipment or visiting a bird observatory.
The BBCT is again looking for applicants from young people aged 16–21 for projects in 2021. It could fund a small-scale research project, habitat creation at a local patch or perhaps an observatory visit. The aim is to encourage young people with their birding. Grants would be up to a maximum of £250. To apply please complete the below application form and e-mail it to [email protected] (deadline 31st March 2021). Applications will be assessed on 1) how the grant will benefit the applicant in their birding (career or hobby) and 2) how the grant will benefit birds and other wildlife more broadly (i.e. scientific knowledge, conservation, public engagement, education). This grant scheme has been generously assisted by Ed Keeble and we welcome other donors to what we consider is a very worthwhile enterprise.
The 2019 recipients used their BB Young Birder grants to experience a range of ornithological activities.
Alex Bayley: I am 17 and a keen amateur naturalist and wildlife photographer. I have a strong interest in the natural world, and one of the ways I take this passion further is through ringing.
Ringing is a privilege, lending a unique insight into the lives of many of our birds. It provides the chance to observe and handle some very rare and special birds, such as Barn Owls, which I had the opportunity to ring earlier on in the year. I was awarded my grant in 2019 and since then have purchased ringing equipment, which is essential for my progression to becoming a qualified bird ringer.
I started ringing a year and a half ago and aim to achieve a C permit after my A levels this year. The cost of rings alone is expensive and so the grant has not only helped me buy the ringing essentials such as the different pliers, and the two essential ringing books, Lars Svenson and Laurent Demongin, but also to pay for the rings themselves which amount to a considerable cost each year.
Having the opportunity to do something I love, whilst also providing important data for conservation on many of our wild birds in Britain, is rewarding. I feel very fortunate to take part in the ringing scheme and to have been awarded such a generous grant that has already, and will continue to, help my progression to become a C permit holder.
Ringing is so important for the monitoring of bird populations in Britain and abroad. Becoming a qualified ringer will provide many opportunities for work all over the globe. To help conservation efforts through the provision of data on some of our most special and rarest birds is a privilege, and therefore I am incredibly grateful to the British Birds Charitable Trust for supporting me in this way.
Kate Fox: This summer I was very lucky to be able to take part in the Young Birders Week at Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory, thanks to the British Birds’ Young Birders’ Grant. The week was an amazing chance to experience island life, and learn more about the day-to-day runnings of a world class bird observatory. We spent many hours seawatching, exploring the island in search of wildlife, and of course ringing!
I am a C permit ringer and have been ringing for three years now- during which time some of my best ringing experiences have been on Bardsey. It was interesting to see a wide variety of techniques used, such as the portable Heligoland we used on the beach to catch rock pipits for a colour ringing project, as well as various traps, and dazzling for waders.
The island is also home to thousands of breeding Manx Shearwaters, and one of the highlights of the week was ringing them. In the day we would work our way along the field margins checking all the burrows for chicks, and at night we would venture out to ring the adults as they came in to feed their young (the oldest of which was from August 1994!). As soon as darkness fell their curious call could be heard flying overhead. Along with the wailing of the seals it is a soundscape I will never forget! By the end of the week I was successfully shaping rings to go on the birds, removing worn rings on retrap birds, and could carefully remove chicks from the burrows. On a couple of nights we also went Storm Petrel ringing, which is the most magical experience. Steve showed us how to safely extract the birds from the nest as they can be notoriously difficult. It was brilliant to work with these seabirds as I have a strong interest in seabird ecology, and have not had many chances to ring seabirds.
As well as ringing, I had some other amazing wildlife encounters; watching the Grey Seals on the beach (and seeing my first Common Species), seeing all three phases of Arctic Skua plus a Pomarine Skua, and coming face to face with a Little Owl!
I learnt so much throughout the week, and feel that I really improved my skills in both ringing and general species ID which will stand me in good stead for the future. I am very grateful to British Birds for making this adventure possible, as well as the Observatory team for their hospitality and enthusiasm, and for organising this amazing event!
Dante Shepherd: Ever since I got into birding it has been a dream of mine to visit the Northern Isles. I was very lucky to spend four months this autumn volunteering at North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory in Orkney. There were many highlights, from twitching Orkney’s first Siberian Rubythroat to witnessing thousands of Redwings seemingly drop out of the sky one October dawn. For me though nothing can beat the buzz which comes from stumbling across something unusual by yourself. I spent hundreds of hours in the field searching for this buzz; climbing two meter high sheep dykes, manoeuvring electric fences (unsuccessfully!) and battling through horizontal rain which felt like your face was being stung repeatedly by a swarm of bees. It wasn’t a vintage autumn for eastern migrants by North Ronaldsay’s standards but I was more than happy with finding a Western Subalpine Warbler, a Greenish Warbler and a Rustic Bunting, among others. I can confidently say that spending so much time birding each day greatly increased my skills as a birdwatcher. I would like to thank Alison and Kevin at North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory and British Birds for enabling this very enjoyable, informative and inspiring opportunity.