This has been a phenomenal year for the group, with our most productive year since the North Wilts crew split away at the end of 2012.
However, there is only one place to start: the Eastern Olivaceous / Booted / Sykes Warbler caught and processed by Ian and Andy on 19th October on the Imber Ranges. The bird is logged with the BBRC, and we are waiting on their decision over the species identification.
Second place in the remarkable birds of the year were the group’s second ever Merlin also caught on Salisbury Plain. The previous Merlin capture was near Beckhampton back in July 2003, over 16 years ago! Two Buzzard caught in mist nets in the same session at Somerford Common was also quite extraordinary! One Buzzard would be brilliant, two is definitely remarkable.
There was an excellent supporting cast, and I suspect that others will have their favourites. For me, to get 3 ringing ticks on my local patch after 10 years ringing there, the first being a Jack Snipe in January, followed by a Skylark in August and then the Buzzard in November, made it an excellent year. Catching the first Skylark (1); Snipe (3) and Jack Snipe (1) in the Braydon Forest is a bonus. For Andy, catching his first Swift, and the first for the group since 2006, must have been right up there.
We also caught our second Firecrest in the Braydon Forest: the only one caught by the group this year. It was a first for Red Lodge and caught in the last round of the day. I was assessing Ian Sheriffs, of the North Wilts group, for his C-permit: he wasn’t expecting to get an extraction and ringing tick, as well as approval for his advancement.
The year has shown some remarkable surges in numbers, but none more so than Greenfinch and Chaffinch. Most of the species had a poor year in 2016, just as the group was becoming more active, with the new C-permit holders: Andy, Andrew and Jonny getting and working their own sites, but the weather wrecked the breeding season and the subsequent knock on effect has shown a slow recovery.
The list for the year was:
As well as our in-group activities, several of the group are involved in other projects in other locations. The results of these activities are summarised below:
Our best year since 2012 by some degree. The catch on West Wilts Ringing Group rings was our best yet:
We had our highest ringing totals in 6 of the 12 months and, as our efforts on our established sites continues, our highest recapture rates in 8 of the 12 months.
When you add in the extra-curricular catches we end up with 6,791 ringed from 81 species; 2,094 retrapped from 55 species, making 8,885 birds processed from 83 species.