Better & Better: Lower Moor Farm, Sunday, 30th June 2019

In order to avoid Saturday’s scorching temperatures, Jonny Cooper and I agreed to move CES session 6 to Sunday.  It was considerably cooler, broken cloud and light to breezy winds. Fortunately, our nets are largely sheltered from the prevailing wind direction and so the activity is not compromised.

We started at the unearthly hour of 4:00, had the nest open pretty sharpish and were processing birds by 4:45.  The catch was steady for the first 6 rounds and then we had a flock of juvenile Blue Tits drop into our net set along the main track between Mallard Lake and the two smaller lakes.  After that the catch rather fell away, as is usual over the course of the morning.

About 8:00 we were treated to the dog Otter turning up again, swimming across Mallard Lake towards the link to Swallow Pool / Cottage Lake.  Not as spectacular as last time but good to see again.  A little later I was lucky enough to see a Kingfisher flying north to south across Mallard Lake.  We caught one last session, the first for two years, so any sightings are very welcome.

As has been the case so far this year, we caught more than double the number of birds taken in the equivalent session last year (87 compared to 39).  The list for the day was: Blue Tit [23](1); Great Tit [5]; Wren [8]; Dunnock 1[2](5); Robin [4]; Cetti’s Warbler [1](3); Blackcap 4[9](2); Garden Warbler [2](1); Whitethroat 1(1); Lesser Whitethroat [1];  Chiffchaff 1[5]; Willow Warbler 2[4]; Greenfinch 1. Totals: 10 adults ringed from 6 species; 64 juveniles ringed from 11 species; 13 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 87 birds processed from 13 species.

The highlights of the session were: retrapping the juvenile Cetti’s Warbler ringed last session, plus ringing a second juvenile Cetti’s of the year.  We also heard male Cetti’s singing from 4 different locations during the course of the morning, with a first being heard along the ride on the Gloucestershire side of the stream.  Garden Warblers are also putting in a good showing this year, with 8 juveniles ringed between 1st May and 30th June, compared to just 4 in this period last year, 4 in 2017, 3 in 2016 and 4 in 2015.  However, my absolute highlight was this:


This is our first juvenile Lesser Whitethroat of the year. It is not that I am greedy but I am looking forward to catching a few more and hoping for our first juvenile Whitethroat of the year next session.  Having started half-an-hour early we closed the nets at 11:00, half-an-hour earlier than usual but necessary as the light breeze had turned into quite a strong breeze and it was now interfering with the nets.  There are three reasons for shutting the nets when it gets windy:

  1. The billowing of a net removes the pockets, so the birds can escape the net;
  2. The nets will seek out any nearby vegetation to become entangled in, their preference being brambles and blackthorn and,
  3. most importantly, the possibility of damage to the birds, due to shear forces along the horizontal net lines and tethers.  This has never happened in one of our sessions because I don’t allow the nets to stay open in adverse conditions. We are very careful.

I am extremely hopeful that this excellent summer will continue.  The mix of weathers seems to be working well for our local birdlife, as evidenced by the proportion of juveniles to adults being ringed.

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