Blakehill Farm: Wednesday, 24th October 2018

With lots of reports of Redwing arriving, and the team catching several on Friday and Saturday at Battlesbury Bowl on Salisbury Plain, we headed for Blakehill Farm to see whether they had arrived for us yet.  They are a little later than last year: our group’s first last year was on the 11th October at Somerford Common.  Last year was a quiet one for Redwing at Blakehill: the perimeter fence had a severe pruning in the early autumn which reduced its value as a food source.  As a result, we caught none there between October and Christmas 2017, compared with 79 in the same period in 2016.  This year, the hedgerow is looking so much better, as a result of the pruning, and full of haws and sloes, so we are hopeful of a restoration of the catch this year.

The day was set to be fair and virtually windless, so just right to have a session at Blakehill.  I was joined by Ellie, Jonny, Steph and Lillie.  We arrived to a clear morning and set nets along the perimeter track first: to target Redwing coming out of roost, before heading onto the plateau to set the Meadow Pipit and bush nets.  As we were setting these nets the temperature dropped and a ground mist formed: which also stopped the birds moving for a while.  I had good views of a fox moving across the plateau in one direction and, a little later, a hare running off in the opposite direction.

We set a couple of lures running, for Meadow Pipit and Redwing.  Both worked.  The list for the session was: Blue Tit 1; Great Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 3; Wren 1(2); Meadow Pipit 8; Redwing 8; Chiffchaff 1; Goldcrest 2; Linnet 3; Reed Bunting 7(1).  Totals: 35 birds ringed from 10 species; 3 birds recaptured from 2 species, making 38 birds processed from 10 species.




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