Blakehill Farm: Thursday, 26th October 2017

After what seems like an age (twelve whole days), I finally got out to do a session this morning. The weather forecast was for it to be overcast but dry and virtually windless.  Unfortunately, the overcast was at ground level and the nets and everything were pretty damp very quickly.  I spent a lot of time shaking nets to remove drops of moisture.  There are two problems with mist like that: the nets accumulate droplets of water, which makes them more visible, and damp nets are more clinging to the birds, making extractions more difficult.

I had Steph and her daughter Lillie to help this morning, but the birds were very few and far between.  Not all bad though: we caught our first Lesser Redpoll for the site, a hedgerow lining a perimeter track around a disused airfield.


At just after 10:00 Steph took Lillie off to an arranged play date, so I suggested that she stay out of the damp and cold and not bother returning, as I was happy to take down on my own.

The next round after they left there were no birds in the nets.  In the following round I extracted and processed two birds, so I decided to take down next round.  However, I decided to have a coffee first, to give one last chance for some birds to get in the nets.  Subsequently, viewing the nets through my binoculars I noticed there were a few birds in them: 25 extractions later, including our sixth Stonechat for the autumn on the site, I finally got to take down. As I processed the last bird, the Stonechat, another, much larger, flock of titmice came through but I had closed the nets so they flew on through and I managed to get everything packed away.


The list for the day was: Blue Tit 5(1); Great Tit (3); Long-tailed Tit (11); Wren 2; Stonechat 1; Robin 2(1); Song Thrush 1; Chiffchaff 1; Goldcrest 1; Chaffinch 1; Goldfinch 6; Lesser Redpoll 1. Totals: 21 birds ringed from 10 species; 16 birds retrapped from four species, making 37 birds processed from 12 species.

As I left the site a flock of twenty or so Linnets and a few Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and Bullfinches flew up from the path in front of me. One of those days when you think “if only”. What started poorly (damp and miserable) ended with a decent catch but could have been so much bigger and better. Next time!!!

Simon Tucker

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