More Fledglings: Lower Moor Farm, Wednesday, 29th May 2019

This was CES session 3 – and a much better session than its corresponding session last year, when a measly 25 birds were recorded.  In the five years that we have been running the CES scheme at Lower Moor Farm, it is the first that had to be curtailed because of bad weather.  We knew there was potential for some rain, only it was expected to arrive at midday.  Instead it arrived at 10:30, forcing us to get the nets closed and away an hour early.  Jonny and I had arrived on site at 4:30, and had all of the nets open by 5:30.  We started catching straight away, but not in great numbers.  However, it was steady and, by the end of the session, we had caught 43 birds.  Ironically, the largest catch came just as we were rushing around to close the nets because of the rain closing in.  Later in the morning we were joined by Abi, getting work experience with the Trust, who is now keen to come out with us again to get more ringing experience.

It was a good catch.  The highlights were our first juvenile Blackcaps and Great Tits of the year, plus another few newly-fledged Blue Tits and Dunnocks.


The list for the day was: Blue Tit 3(1); Great Tit 8(1); Wren (2); Dunnock 3; Robin 4; Blackbird (2); Cetti’s Warbler (1); Reed Warbler 1; Blackcap 3(2); Garden Warbler (3); Lesser Whitethroat 2; Chiffchaff 2(1); Willow Warbler (1); Bullfinch 1; House Sparrow 1; Reed Bunting 1.  Totals: 29 birds ringed from 11 species; 14 birds recaptured from 9 species, making 43 birds processed from 16 species.

It really is turning out to be the earliest breeding season I can remember. In the period 27th to the 29th May, in addition to the birds blogged about on my visits, team members have also caught newly-fledged juveniles of Starling (Warminster area), Wren, Long-tailed Tit and Chaffinch (Chippenham area).

Once we had packed up Jonny and I headed off to Blakehill Farm to ring the Jackdaw chicks holed up in the bug hotel at the Whitworth Building on the site.  I have been monitoring the progress over the last few weeks from when there were four, then five, warm eggs.  All hatched and, when I last looked 10 days ago, there were five healthy but blind and featherless pulli in the nest.  This was the perfect time to ring them: they would be feathered and just developing their primary flight feathers but not so advanced that they would try to explode away from the nest.  The first indication that everything was not as it should be was the lack of adult activity at the nest site.  Okay, they could have been away foraging for food for the young but when we checked the nest cavity there was no sign the chicks had ever been there.  It would seem that they have been predated – there is chance that they have fledged already. Given that they were a good size even when first seen as young I can only think it was either Carrion Crow or, possibly, Raven or even Stoat. Who knows because, until we looked, nobody at the Trust knew they were no longer there.  It was disappointing finale to a decent morning’s work.

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