Getting to Red Lodge is a bit of a pallaver at the moment. With the B4696 closed for ten weeks whilst they change the road layout to try to reduce the mortality rate at the Braydon crossroads, what is normally a five minute journey for me is now a fifteen minute trek. Wanting to maximise the return from the site, on Thursday I set up a feeding station and, once again, had to re-erect the bird table that the local vandal has, for the umpteenth time, pulled out and dumped. At least they didn’t chuck it in the pond this time. It is hard to fathom the mindset. I decided to dig it in out in the open on the corner of the pond, so that when the Forestry Commission put in the covert surveillance, we can get some nice pictures of the perpetrator. Given that it escalated to theft of the hanging feeders last year, I set them up in a location a decent distance away from the table, and away from the path to and from the dwellings and the farm; on the basis that the vandal is almost certainly a local from the Red Lodge complex.
Arriving on site just before 7:00 I was a little surprised to find that the seed feeders were completely empty: the birds must have found them very quickly. I refilled them and decided to set just four nets: two making a dogleg along two sides of the bird table and then two running between the hanging feeders.
I was joined for the session by Jonny and Ellie: and it was good to have my two most experienced lieutenants with me, as we had a busy morning. We only managed two-and- a-half hours of ringing before the rain arrived, three hours early, but we processed 101 birds in that time. The list for the day was: Nuthatch 2(1); Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 29(14); Great Tit 19(12); Coal Tit 3(6); Marsh Tit 1(3); Long-tailed Tit 1; Wren 1(1); Robin 1(1); Goldcrest 3; Chaffinch 1; Lesser Redpoll 1. Totals: 63 birds ringed from 12 species; 38 birds retrapped from seven species, making 101 birds processed from 12 species.
As normal, the majority of the birds caught were Blue and Great Tits. Blue Tits, in particular, seem to have made a good recovery from two poor years in the Braydon Forest. 30 of the 43 caught were birds fledged this year. Last year adults were outnumbering juveniles.
Whilst processing birds from the second round, we were approached by a couple who had been jogging through the wood, to find out what we were doing. They asked if they could bring their children over to see the birds, so we did another of our impromptu ringing demonstrations to an appreciative and young audience.
Our highlights of the day were: our second catch of Lesser Redpoll on the site, the first being November last year. This was a lovely adult male:
We caught another Marsh Tit: our fifth of the year at this site, twenty-fourth of the year in the Braydon Forest; and retrapped three of them, our twenty-first recaptured individuals (32 retrap events) in the Forest this year.