Happy New Year: Blakehill Farm, Wednesday, 1st January 2020

With the forecast being for light winds, a reasonable temperature and no rain, Jonny Cooper and I decided to go for quality over quantity this morning.  Although it was a disaster last time we ran a session, with only 8 birds caught and none out of the ordinary, we decided to have another go at the pond area at Blakehill Farm. It is the only site we have where there is a realistic chance of catching the odd wader.

Actually, I had a bad night last night and still felt nauseous this morning and, if I hadn’t arranged to meet up with Jonny, would have crawled back into my pit. Unbeknown to me, Jonny was sat in his car in Chippenham feeling pretty similar: wondering whether to call me and cry off as well. However, neither of us wanted to let the other down, so we soldiered on and both turned up on site at the agreed time.  It didn’t help that our agreed start time was 6:30! Just to be clear: none of this was alcohol related. Hard to believe, given the dates, but true!

Given the state we were in we only set a few nets: 3 wader nets in a horseshoe in pond 2; a Mipit triangle in the rank grass outside of the pond area and 4 x 18m nets along the hedgerow at the back of Rook Tree Ground field.  We set a lure for Meadow Pipit in the Mipit triangle (it didn’t work – we caught none).  In Rook Tree Ground we set a lure for Redwing: that did work a bit.

The wader nets were the first ones we set up: well before dawn, and they were the first nets to catch birds,  Our first bird extracted in 2020 was a Snipe.


 This was followed by two Jack Snipe.  Our first bird ringed of 2020 was a Jack Snipe.


Jack Snipe 1Jack Snipe 2

The list for the morning was: Snipe 1; Jack Snipe 3; Blue Tit 1; Great Tit 2; Redwing 5.  Total: 12 birds ringed from 5 species. Not a large catch but excellent quality!  Given that my team has only ever previously caught a single Jack Snipe to catch three was a phenomenal result.  The third Jack Snipe was fortuitously caught.  For each net round each of us approached the pond from different directions: from the west or the east. As I was walking towards the pond for the third round, I accidentally flushed the Jack Snipe from where it was feeding and it flew off but straight into the net!

There were relatively few birds flying around and, after a couple of empty rounds, we took down at 11:00 and left site at midday. An auspicious start to 2020!


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