Baby Blues: Thursday, 4th June 2020

I had planned to carry out a session on the perimeter track at Blakehill Farm this Thursday, but the forecast for the morning was for winds to come from the north, gusting up to 14 mph. Having spent more time of my life extracting mist nets from hedgerows at Blakehill and Brown’s Farms than is good for a person (not to mention the cost of replacement or the time spent repairing), as a result of unforecast winds, I decided to err on the side of caution with wind forecast, and restrict my activities to the garden.

With my usual 4 net setup and 4 Potter traps baited with fat balls, I was ready to go. Then things went a little awry: I woke up at gone 9:00, with a pulled muscle in my back and in pain. After a while I forced myself out of the door, opened the nets and set the traps: everything was ready to go at 11:30. Now, my garden sessions so far since lockdown have caught between 10 and 16 birds. That is with the nets open at dawn and left open until late afternoon. Thursday, with the nets open between 11:30 and 14:00, I caught 27 birds. However, they came from only 4 species, whereas previous catches have been 6 to 10 species.

The catch was: Blue Tit 9; Blackbird 4(1); Starling 8(2); Goldfinch 3. Totals: 24 birds ringed from 4 species, and 3 birds recaptured from 2 species. Of the birds ringed, 16 were juveniles: 7 Starlings, 5 Blue Tits, 3 Goldfinches and 1 Blackbird. The two recaptured Starlings were also juveniles. By contrast, the recaptured Blackbird was at least a six year old bird, ringed as an adult in April 2015.

These are my first juvenile Blue Tits of the year anywhere. Given the stories of failed broods and small clutches around the country it was a relief to catch any:

That said, all of the young Blue Tits were of low weight: less that 10g each. Hopefully the weather will be kind enough for them to get enough food to survive – and there will be plenty of food in my garden.

It was a pleasant session, interspersed with copious cups of tea and coffee, and all the better for having had a good lie in. However, with the amount of activity on the feeders this morning, had I kicked myself out of bed at the normal time, it could have been a 60 bird catch yesterday! Lots more Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Woodpigeon in the garden first thing today.

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