A Couple of Firsts at Tedworth House: Wednesday, 17th July 2019

I have been carrying out my monthly sessions at Tedworth House since September 2013. Over the years the site has been improved by opening up the beech woodland to allow the floor to develop better under-storey.  They are never my biggest catches but they so often contain an unusual catch.

Today was one of those days. Over the last 10 years I have caught 12 Green Woodpeckers, and today I caught my first at Tedworth House:


This was an adult male.  Fabulous though this was, my morning started with a real high when I got the opportunity to ring my first ever brood of Dunnock nestlings.  Whilst I do the catching and ringing of the adult birds at the site, my friend, the wonderfully named Jack Daw, is a nest finding specialist and he manages the ringing of nestlings at Tedworth.  It helps that he works there and can spend his break times checking on them.  Anyway, a female Sparrowhawk has been making a meal of some of the Crows that frequent the grounds.  Apparently they have been coming to the ornamental pool to drink and the Sparrowhawk has been ambushing them there. My plan was to set a net across the flight-path she has been taking. Jack suggested that I didn’t, because there was a Dunnock nest immediately adjacent to where I was planning to set the net. He then asked if  I would like to ring them as he had planned to do it Thursday but one day either way is neither here nor there.  Actually, it is quite important to me: I have a licence to ring nest box and hole-nesting birds plus Swallows and Crows but not open nest small Passerines.  It is something I hope to add to my existing licence quite soon, with Jack’s on-going help.  So, this morning I ringed the brood.

The rest of the catch was largely juvenile, including 5 Blackbirds all caught in the same net, 4 in one catch, the fifth in the next.  We are pretty convinced that they were brood mates, given the proximity and the remarkable similarity in their plumage.

The list for the day was: Green Woodpecker 1; Blue Tit 1[2]; Great Tit [2](1); Dunnock {4}[3](1); Robin [1]; Blackbird 1[5]; Blackcap 1. Totals: 4 adults ringed from 4 species; 4 pulli ringed from 1 species; 13 fledged juveniles ringed from 5 species and 2 birds recaptured from 2 species, making a total of 23 birds processed from 7 species.

My ringing station is set up in the top corner of the visitors’ car park. Immediately adjacent to my station was a huge Horse Chestnut tree.  It was being devastated by the larvae (caterpillars, but you never see them) of a leaf miner moth:


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