A Busy Week: 16th to 21st April 2018

With the weather finally improving, I wanted to catch up on some of the missed sessions during the course of this week.   This led to four sessions in six days.  On Monday it was Ravensroost Woods, Wednesday at Tedworth House, Thursday on Somerford Common and today (Saturday) at Lower Moor Farm.

This time of the year is usually the quietest, making it the best time of year to start new trainees to the world of bird ringing.  Monday’s session was the first for Hayley, the latest recruit to our team.  She was referred to me by the BTO, has done a little bit of ringing during the course of her degree, and lives and works close by to my Braydon Forest sites.  Fortunately, she also has the temperament to fit right in.  As I wanted to be able to give her the chance to start working with the birds without pressure, we set up just two net rides of four 18 metre nets each, and the catch was correspondingly small.  We caught 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.

On Wednesday I did my usual monthly session at Tedworth House. It actually wasn’t that usual, as I was asked if I would allow a family, whose dad is undergoing rehabilitation at Tedworth, to join me for the morning. As that is one of my main motivations for doing it, I was very happy to have them along: Mum, Dad and their three boys were good company and we all enjoyed the morning.  With the improved weather other members of the staff and attendees also came to see the birds.  We were lucky enough to get a good variety of birds throughout the morning.  The list from the session was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Nuthatch (2); Blue Tit 3(4); Great Tit (2); Coal Tit 1(1); Blackbird 1(1); Blackcap 1; Chiffchaff 1; Greenfinch 1.  Totals: nine birds ringed from seven species; 10 birds retrapped from five species, making 19 birds processed from nine species.  Any session that starts with a Great Spotted Woodpecker as the first bird is a good session.

Thursday saw Jonny and I head to Somerford Common.   There is a lot going on at this site, with a lot of scrub clearance in the fenced off enclosure, leaving the mature trees and hazel stands for coppicing over the years ahead.  It looks rather like a wasteland at the moment.  We set four net rides, totalling 10 x 18 metre nets, and had a reasonable catch for this time of year.  It will be interesting to see how the management regime affects the catch.  The session was notable for a catch of four Willow Warblers, two retrapped from last year (one ringed in the Spring, the second at the end of the breeding season) and two new individuals, but no Chiffchaffs and then, right at the end of the session, we caught two female Jays – and narrowly missed out on a third, that managed to extricate itself from the net before Jonny could get to it.

The list for the session was: Jay 2; Blue Tit 2(2); Coal Tit 1(2); Long-tailed Tit 1(1); Dunnock 2; Robin 2; Blackcap 3; Willow Warbler 2(2); Bullfinch 1.  Totals: 16 birds ringed from nine species; seven birds retrapped from four species, making 23 birds processed from nine species.

Jonny, sharp-eyed and alert, heard a bit of a rustle in the foliage on the floor and spotted a Common Lizard in amongst the grasses.  It is the first I have seen on the site.

Today was a special session run for the Oaksey Wildlife Watch Group.  There are over 300 Wildlife Watch Groups in the UK.  They are volunteer run bodies, usually within the umbrella of the local Wildlife Trust organisation, with the aim of involving young children with all aspects of wildlife.  When I was asked if I would run (another) session for a Watch Group there was never any doubt that we would do it.  Jonny volunteered and Ellie, who had a lot to do today, as she is running guided walks to see the Snake’s-Head Fritillaries in Clattinger Meadows tomorrow, kindly turned up to help during the 9:00 to 11:00 period the children were with us.  Again, the catch wasn’t huge but we had enough birds and a good enough variety to keep the children (and their parents and the volunteers) interested and happy for the session.

We had our first Lesser Whitethroats of the year and the retrapped Garden Warbler was first ringed as an adult in May 2016, was retrapped in May 2017 and has now arrived for the third year (that we know of) as an adult.  These birds over-winter in sub-equatorial and southern Africa: that is a lot of miles this bird has covered in its life.

The list for the morning was: Blue Tit 2(3); Great Tit 1(2); Dunnock 1(2); Blackbird 2; Blackcap 2(1); Garden Warbler (1); Lesser Whitethroat 3; Chiffchaff 3(2); Goldcrest 1; Chaffinch 1.  Totals: 16 birds ringed from nine species; 11 birds retrapped from six species, making 27 birds processed from 10 species.

The session closed at 11:00 and, as the families were leaving, one of the children noticed a newly built Long-tailed Tit nest in one of the bramble bushes lining the main path.  It was clearly occupied, as they saw a bird fly out whilst they were looking at the nest.

LTT Nest

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