Lower Moor Farm: Sunday, 21st July 2019

After a couple of days of rain we managed to get CES 8 done this morning. It was calm and overcast for most of the session: almost perfect ringing weather. I was joined for the session by Jonny, David and Henny.  The catch in the equivalent session last year was 45 birds and, as we have been doubling last year’s catch in every session to date, I was hoping for 90 birds. Unfortunately, we only had a 50% increase and ended up with a catch of 69 birds

What is really noticeable is just how many juvenile birds we are catching this year.  Comparing with 2018 shows a stark contrast:


There is a significant increase in the commonest resident species at Lower Moor Farm: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren and Robin.  This is almost certainly due to the much drier and warmer Spring we had this year, enabling the adults to get in better breeding condition, and then providing enough food for the youngsters in the nest. There have also been significant increases in LMF’s commonest Summer visitors: Blackcap and Chiffchaff, with better showings for all of our other summer migrants.  One other potential helpful factor: 3 years ago the Wildlife Trust started what has become a trend for Wildlife Trusts across the country. It is called scalloping. What has been done is that where there are wooded and hedged rides they cut out flattened semi-ovoid edges at intervals along the edges. This opens the area up to be cultivated by flowering plants, encouraging more insects into the area. It has taken a couple of years, but the scallops are now full of  flowers and the sheer volume of insects was unbelievable. Our ringing station was inundated with thousands of tiny black flies: they didn’t bite but they seemed impervious to deet and were a bit of a nuisance – but great food for insectivorous birds.

Particularly encouraging is the huge improvement in the fortunes of the one resident warbler species at LMF: the Cetti’s Warbler.  Last year we recaptured a couple of adult birds, but there was no sign of successful breeding.  This year we have caught 9 juveniles at different times and plumage development stages at the site. It is pretty convincing evidence of three successful broods for the first time since we started working there.

Our catch for the session was: Blue Tit [1](1); Great Tit 1[5](1); Wren [4](1); Dunnock [1]; Robin [4](2); Blackbird 3; Cetti’s Warbler [2](2); Reed Warbler 1; Blackcap 2[15](3); Garden Warbler [2](1); Whitethroat [1]; Lesser Whitethroat [3](1); Chiffchaff 1[9]; Willow Warbler (2).  Totals: 8 adults ringed from 5 species; 47 juveniles ringed from 11 species; 14 birds recaptured from 9 species, making 69 birds processed from 14 species.  Significantly, most of the recaptured birds were also juveniles ringed in previous sessions, so juveniles made up 55 of the 69 birds in the catch.

The session was full of highlights: the juvenile Cetti’s – evidence of a third brood fledging this year, a clear highlight, given that this is the best ever breeding season for them evidenced at LMF.  However, one of my favourite birds is the Lesser Whitethroat so catching 3 new juveniles and recapturing another juvenile we ringed earlier in the season was very pleasing:


One of the problems with doing a formal project, as this is, we have to keep the nets open for a fixed period of time: even when the birds have all decided to push off elsewhere, as happened here. We stopped catching any number of birds at just gone 10:00 but had to look at empty nets until 11:30 when we could pack up. It’s not all fun.


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