I had been all set for a days ringing on the 24th March with the car packed and sandwiches made, when Boris announced the start of the lockdown. Reluctantly, I decided that the journey fell into the unnecessary category and stayed at home. Just as well really as the police had road blocks on the main road at the bottom of my street, although I doubt if they would have been there at 04:30, which is when I have to leave home at this time of year to arrive at South Milton just before dawn.
The BTO announced that all ringing and survey work was to cease until further notice, so I was stuck at home for eight long weeks with an increasing sense of frustration. Social distancing is easy at SML as I rarely see anyone else there during a day’s ringing, but I recognise that if I had an accident it could have put an unnecessary burden on the health service.
Following the Prime Minister’s relaxation of the restrictions on Sunday 10th May, the BTO finally did the same three days later, on Wednesday 13th May, but insisted that permission was obtained from landowners before ringing could recommence. It took another couple of days before I received a positive response from Devon Birds. I had been warned that the reedbed net rides were completely overgrown after two months of neglect and was waiting for a contractor to clear them with a brush cutter but, hearing nothing, I took the bit between my teeth and decided to do the work myself.
Although forewarned, the rampant growth of vegetation still took me by surprise, and it took over four hours of slashing and raking to clear the 50-meter length of Marsh Ride. It was too windy to put nets up anyway, but the breeze kept the temperature tolerable on what was a pretty warm day otherwise. Still I am ready to go as soon as the weather is suitable!