The Firs: Friday, 2nd February 2018

The Firs is developing nicely as a bird habitat.  Recently there have been reports of Willow Tit at the entrance to the reserve; Marsh Tit numbers have increased significantly over the last two years; and it is a regular site for seeing and hearing Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and, although I didn’t see it, I heard a Lesser Spot drumming whilst setting up nets this morning.  Tying this in with some excellent sightings over the last couple of years, it is entirely possible that they could breed there.

This morning’s session was nowhere near as exciting as it might have been, but it was a very busy session. With only four nets set (3 x 18m, 1 x 12m), I had expected a catch of 40 or so birds. In the event, there was more than twice that number.  Ellie Jones joined me for the first part of the session but, having a proper job with the Wildlife Trust, had to leave at 11:00.  That left me with another 20 birds to extract and 35 to process.

The list for the session was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Nuthatch 1(2); Blue Tit 37(11); Great Tit 10(10); Coal Tit 4(3); Marsh Tit (3); Robin (2); Blackbird (1); Bullfinch 1.  Totals: 54 birds ringed from six species; 32 birds retrapped from seven species, making 86 birds processed from nine species.

Obviously, the session was very titmouse oriented, only mitigated by a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Bullfinch and three Nuthatch.  One thing that was interesting involved the commonest bird of the session. It is always nice when you can find something different about such a regular catch.

Of the 48 Blue Tits caught, 38 were birds fledged last year.  Of these, all bar nine were caught before 11:00.  No adult Blue Tits were caught before the 11:00 round, when one was caught.  The remaining nine were caught after 12:00.  When catching birds in the woods in the autumn, I have always been struck by the absence of adults until December time.  It made me wonder whether they have a different feeding strategy to the youngsters.  Is this another manifestation of the same thing?

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