Garden CES Trial: Sunday, 3rd May 2020

This has been mooted for a long time and is now, as a result of lockdown, being trialled within the UK: the BTO are asking us to run a constant effort site (CES) in our gardens. As you will have seen from my previous garden posts, I have a medium sized garden that attracts a reasonable number of birds and so I have volunteered to trial the scheme, whilst missing my Lower Moor Farm CES.

One of the benefits of a garden session is that you can safely set and furl your nets the day before, meaning that a 4:30 start could be avoided.  Sunday morning I was up at 5:15 and had the nets open by 5:30.  Unfortunately, the first bird was not caught until 6:30.  However, I was regaled by the dawn chorus, on International Dawn Chorus Day, whilst waiting.  A Magpie did get in the net at 6:15, but managed to extricate itself before I could get to it.

It wasn’t a huge catch but worthwhile nonetheless.  To date, in 2020, I have caught 21 Greenfinches in my garden, with three more caught on Sunday. If I compare that with last year, we caught none in the same period at any of our sites.  In 2018 we caught just the one in our northern sites, again in my garden, so our catch to date looks remarkable.  Over the last 6 years I have caught 93 Greenfinches in the garden: the vast majority, though, have been juveniles caught in the last 6 months of the year.

The actual highlight of the session was catching my first garden Stock Dove. They have been joining the Woodpigeons in the garden, to hoover up the spill from the feeders. My only concern was that they have also been joined by the odd Feral Pigeon, of the Rock Dove type and colouration, and they can look remarkably similar, apart from the wing bars.  I didn’t rush the identification and it was definitely a Stock Dove.

I also caught my fifth Woodpigeon of the year.  The list for the day was: Woodpigeon 1; Stock Dove 1; Blue Tit (1); Coal Tit (2); Blackbird 1(1): Greenfinch 3; Goldfinch 4(1).  Totals: 10 birds ringed from 5 species and 5 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 15 birds processed from 7 species.

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