CES 1: Tuesday, 7th May 2019 @ Lower Moor Farm

CES stands for Constant Effort Site and is one of the BTO’s most important project schemes. The idea is simple: the same nets are placed in the same positions for the same period of time year after year, roughly 10 days apart throughout the breeding season (the first week of May to the first week of September).  I set my nets and leave them open for 6 hours.  When I first looked into setting up a CES I planned to set a lot of nets, as Lower Moor Farm has a variety of habitats that would bear monitoring.  However, I realised that there would be occasions when I would be working solo, and so I scaled back the plans.  I have 4 rides, comprising 201 metres of net, in 5 habitat variations.  As it happens, today I was working solo, so I am quite pleased that I didn’t go for a large setup.

It was a 4:00 start: as I was setting the nets alone, I thought I had better give myself an earlier start. It did mean that I got to hear the dawn chorus from beginning to end, which isn’t a bad start to anyone’s day.  Unfortunately, the start time was mirrored by the temperature in degrees Celsius: a bit chilly!

I also had another close encounter of the Cuckoo kind.  It started with a male calling from the trees adjacent to where I had just opened my last nets, and I then had super views as it flew around the site, before heading off in a north-westerly direction.  One day I will catch one!

The catch for the day was a big improvement on the equivalent session in the previous two years: Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 1(1); Great Tit 1(2); Wren 1(1); Dunnock 5(4); Robin (1); Song Thrush (1); Blackbird (1); Blackcap 6(7); Garden Warbler 6(3); Whitethroat 4; Chiffchaff 4(1); Willow Warbler 3(1); Bullfinch (4). Totals: 32 birds ringed from 10 species; 27 birds recaptured from 12 species, making 59 birds processed from 14 species.

One of the recaptured Garden Warblers is not a bird that our group has ringed. I shall look forward to finding out its history.

The most striking catch of the morning was a Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa coccinea, which I carefully extracted from one of my nets:

Black-headed Cardinal

Not a great photo – but I didn’t have my macro lens with me.  There is already a superb variety of insects flying around the lake sides: one day I will have to eschew the birds for a while and focus on the insects.

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