Today’s visit to Somerford Common rounded off a series of visits covering all of our Braydon Forest woodland sites within the last three weeks. It has been an interesting period, with our winter visitors arriving and the residents in their winter flocks taking advantage of the feeding stations that have now been set up.
Feeding stations offer an interesting quid pro quo: the birds have a source of supplementary feeding during bad weather and we can set fewer nets for more birds caught. This one was set up on Tuesday afternoon, and topped up on Thursday afternoon. It needed topping up, so I was confident of a good catch at the site. I was joined today by Jonny Cooper and Annie Hatt. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for a dry but overcast morning proved false: we were afflicted by intermittent rain showers all session. It made conditions a little uncomfortable but it wasn’t hard enough to compromise the nets or the welfare of the birds. However, at 10:30 the rain became heavier and more persistent, so we shut the nets and took down.
That was a shame because the first round was excellent: five Marsh Tits extracted. Two were new birds (one adult and one juvenile) and three retrapped birds. These two keep adding to the total ringed this year so far: we are now up to 26 ringed, plus 23 individuals retrapped over the year. This really is turning into a very encouraging year for this species. However, species of the day was Coal Tit. We caught 14 in total: five new birds and nine retraps. The oldest of them, D837097, was ringed as a juvenile in November 2013. However, the oldest bird of the day was a female Bullfinch, D056791, ringed as an adult five years and one day ago in Ravensroost Woods. Typical lifespan is two years, so she is surviving well at six years old.
The list for the day was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Nuthatch 2; Blue Tit 7(1); Great Tit 7; Coal Tit 5(9); Marsh Tit 2(3); Robin 3(3); Blackbird (1); Bullfinch 1(1). Totals: 27 birds ringed from seven species; 19 birds retrapped from seven species, making 46 birds processed from nine species.
The variety was slightly lacking, with just nine species. For some reason the usually dependable Redwing lure did not work its magic and the regular Lesser Redpoll failed to appear. In fact, we are usually confident of getting both Goldfinch and Chaffinch in catches at Somerford and they were nowhere to be seen this time either. Perhaps if we had managed a full session they might have arrived.