Meadow Farm: Saturday, 16th May 2020

The following blog piece is by Jonny Cooper.

Following changes to the UK’s lockdown restrictions, and a subsequent efficient review of these changes by the BTO with Natural England and the JNCC, ringing in England has been permitted since Wednesday. Of course, social distancing rules must be adhered to at all times, and the landowners must be happy for ringing to be undertaken at this time. This change offered me my first opportunity in nearly 2 months to undertake some ringing away from the garden, so I headed to my ever-reliable site at Meadow Farm.

Since my last session at the site in March the summer migrants have arrived across the country in force, and many resident birds are well into the breeding season, so I was optimistic about what I might find. The weather forecast was for a calm and overcast morning with temperatures reaching the mid-teens by lunchtime. The board was set, it was time to start moving the pieces.

The first round at 5:45 produced 13 birds including several summer migrants. From then on each round consistently produced 5 – 10 birds across the morning. The list for the session is as follows:

Kingfisher 1(1), Great Spotted Woodpecker (3), Treecreeper (1), Blue Tit (3), Great Tit 2(3), Long-tailed Tit 1(1), Wren 2(2), Dunnock 3(3), Robin 2(2), Song Thrush 1, Blackbird (2), Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Warbler 3(3), Blackcap 5(1), Garden Warbler 2, Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 2(1), Chaffinch (1), Greenfinch 3(3) and Goldfinch 1(3).  30 birds ringed from 15 species, 33 re-traps from 16 species, making a total of 63 birds processed from 20 species.

The Kingfishers are the nineteenth ringed and the eighth re-trapped birds at the site since the first was caught in August 2018. A phenomenal number given the small size of the site. However, they were trumped today by the Garden Warblers: the two birds processed represent the first records for the site. An additional highlight was the re-trapping of three Reed Warblers, one Blackcap and one Chiffchaff that were ringed on-site last year. A nice example of site fidelity amongst these migrant birds.

Aside from ringing, I was treated all morning to a Cuckoo calling in the trees around me.  At one point a second male joined him and they began to chase each other. The reason for this soon became clear when a female Cuckoo appeared and stared making the distinctive ‘bubbling call’.  Also, I heard a Cetti’s Warbler singing for the first time on the site. Two birds were ringed last year in September, so hopefully the species is starting to colonise.

I finished packing up about 1pm, I was about to leave when I was treated to a Grass Snake sliding across the path in front of me. Another first for the site. Overall, it was as good a mornings ringing as I could have hoped for, made even better by the wider cast of wildlife found on site. Well worth the wait.

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