Blakehill Farm, 14th April and Ravensroost Wood, 16th April 2018

Desperate to get some ringing activity in between all of this rain, I have had the nets open in the garden for a few hours in between showers.  It has been a pleasantly varied catch with one sparkling bonus: my first garden Blackcap.  It was a female coming into breeding condition, but weighing in at over 20g.  I cannot decide whether she has had an easy migration to the UK and not used up a lot of her fat reserves, or is having a late departure to central Europe to breed.

The birds caught were: Blue Tit 4(1); Great Tit 3; Long-tailed Tit 2; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 1; Starling 3; Chaffinch 1; Greenfinch 1; Goldfinch 4(3); Robin 2. Totals: 22 birds ringed from 10 species; four birds retrapped from two species, making 26 birds processed from 10 species.

I did catch a Wren, which I incompetently managed to allow to escape from the bag as I was taking it out to ring it, and a beautiful male Chaffinch that I couldn’t ring as it was showing signs of Fringilla Papilloma Virus.

On Saturday, with the weather forecast for sunshine and minimal wind, Steph and I went to Blakehill Farm, basing ourselves at the Whitworth Building.  With just the two of us we didn’t set a lot of net, three rides, and, consequently, had a small catch. As with the garden, the variety was good: Great Tit (3); Wren 1; Dunnock 2(1); Chiffchaff 3; Linnet 1; House Sparrow 3. Totals: 10 birds ringed from five species; four birds retrapped from two species, making 14 birds processed from six species.

Two of the Great Tits were interesting: they were caught at opposite ends of the site, but had consecutive ring numbers. Potentially nest mates who have dispersed to find their own territories.  There were half-a-dozen Linnets flying around, but we only managed to catch the one, fine looking, male:


We don’t catch many House Sparrows: they seem to be very good at avoiding nets, so catching three was unusual for us.  They were all males:


Because we have missed so many sessions this year I decided to go for an extra session at Ravensroost Woods on Monday.  I was joined by Hayley Roberts, for her first taster session as a potential trainee.  Again, being mindful that I was the only person available to extract birds, we only set two rides and had an appropriately small catch.  The catch for the day was: Blue Tit 4(1); Robin (1); Blackbird (1); Blackcap 3(1); Chiffchaff 1; Goldcrest 2.  Totals: 10 birds ringed from four species; four birds retrapped from four species, making 14 birds processed from six species.

All of the birds caught were showing signs of coming into breeding condition: it won’t be long before they are laying and brooding.  Not spectacularly large catches but thoroughly enjoyable sessions.

The photos are courtesy of Steph Buggins. Thanks Steph.

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