Before getting into the session at Tedworth House today I am going to say a few things about the Breeding Bird Survey I carried out yesterday. For the last six years I have been carrying out the BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey at Brown’s Farm, just south of Marlborough. As readers of the blog know, I also ring at this site, and did so quite recently. The difference between ringing the site and doing a breeding bird survey is in the amount of ground you cover. For BBS I walk two 1 km transects, 1 km apart, recording the birds I see and hear in 10 x 200 metre zones and noting their distance from the track that I walk. There are 3 zones: <25m; 25m – 100m and >100m.
Whilst in our last ringing session there we caught 4 Linnet, 6 Whitethroat and 5 Yellowhammer: during my walk yesterday I noted over 40 Linnet; 20 Whitethroat and 30 Yellowhammer along the hedgerows. I was also lucky to see half-a-dozen Hares and had my closest ever encounter with this enigmatic mammal. Half way through the survey I stopped for coffee, sitting on a low bank at the edge of a field. Two Hares came running up the path towards me, they stopped and a bit of boxing ensued. They then ran on further and sat no more than 5 metres from my position. We “shared a moment” for three minutes before they moved off in different directions.
To Tedworth House. It was a quiet session, carried out to a background of the constant chatter of the Raven chicks and their parents. They have been fledged for a while now but are clearly still hanging around as a family. Although I didn’t catch huge numbers of birds, it was quite interesting nonetheless.
The highlight had to be my first Magpie since October 2016. Of the 15 Magpies caught by the Group since 1st January 2013, 6 of them have been caught at Tedworth House. The list for the day was: Magpie 1; Nuthatch (2); Blue Tit 1; Song Thrush 1; Blackbird 5(2); Blackcap 3(1); Goldfinch 1; Bullfinch 2. Totals: 14 birds ringed from 7 species; 5 birds recaptured from 3 species, making 19 birds ringed from 8 species.
The number of Blackbirds was remarkable. One was a juvenile from this year; 4 were second year birds and the two recaptured birds were full adults. I was joined by several keen observers during the day. Two were absolutely delighted to be shown how to safely hold and release a Goldfinch and Blackbird respectively.
As the temperature rose, the bird activity fell and I closed the nets at 11:30, after a couple of empty rounds. The session finished on a bit of a high when Jack, the maintenance man for Tedworth House and expert nest finder, showed me a Goldcrest nest in a fir tree overhanging the children’s play area.