Blakehill Farm: Saturday, 8th September 2018

We had a short but interesting session at Blakehill this morning.  I was joined by my old trainer, Ian Grier, plus Jonny, Steph, Lillie and our latest recruit, Tim Tapley from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Estates Management team and, briefly, by Neil Pullen, the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Reserves Manager.

With nets set by the small bushes on the edge of the central plateau for any wandering migrants, plus a net set for resident Meadow Pipits, we were hopeful of a decent catch.

For once the perimeter track hedgerow nets, usually the source of the highest numbers of birds caught, caught absolutely nothing in 6 x 18 metre nets. Unfortunately we were immediately beset by two problems: we had light rain on and off whilst setting the nets and for the first full two hours of catching, despite the forecast suggesting that there was only the slightest chance of rain first thing, and the light breeze we started with grew steadily stronger, so that by 10:30 we had to take down.  Fortunately, the heavy rain forecast for mid-morning never materialised.

So, to have our best ever catch of Whinchat (9), our first ever Tree Pipit for the site, and 15 (out of goodness knows how many flying around) Meadow Pipits in the short time we had available was very satisfying.  The rest of the catch comprised 2 Whitethroat, 1 new and 1 recaptured Dunnock and 3 Reed Buntings.


One thing that was nice to be able to look at was the difference in the wing markings between male (top) and female Whinchat:
It was a shame we had to pack up early but we are rather of the opinion that this is going to be a long autumn migration season and we might well still have a good spread of migrants to show at the ringing demonstration.  As discussed with Neil, many Swallows are still rearing third broods and are not yet on migration. It seems likely that the same applies to House Martins.  Given that one of the Meadow Pipits was a newly fledged bird, showing no sign of post-fledging moult, clearly this is one of the longest breeding seasons we have seen for a while.
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