This has been my first opportunity to get out to Brown’s Farm this year. It is very exposed to wind, being at the top of Postern Hill, south of Marlborough, and whilst Savernake Forest lies to the east of it there is very little to act as a windbreak anywhere. So throughout January to lockdown the weather was just never right for a session and, as we have come out of lockdown,. it has been pretty windy. Yesterday was forecast for practically zero base wind speed, gusting up to 4 mph. It started like that at 5:00 when I arrived on site, but by 9:00 it was just too windy for where I had agreed with the farmer to set my nets. On top of that, and something I should have predicted, the sun came out early and the nets were in full glare all session. Both of these are a roundabout way of saying, it was not a very good catch.
That is not to say it was a total waste of time and effort: anywhere that you can sit and watch and listen to Skylarks singing their hearts out, with Yellowhammer song filling the gaps in between, is not a waste. I see more Skylark at this site than at any of my others, and that includes Blakehill Farm, Also, anywhere where you can sit and watch Hares and their antics is wonderful, and I got to do a lot of that!
Whilst the catch size was disappointing: just 11 birds in 10 x 18m nets in 4 hours is never going to be a fulfilling session, it was not a dead loss. I caught my first juvenile Chaffinch of the year and my first juvenile Yellowhammer:
You will notice the open beak gape: the only birds I find that regularly do this are Yellowhammer and Bullfinch. I think it is probably a threat posture.
The list for the morning was: Blue Tit 1; Dunnock 3; Whitethroat 1; Chiffchaff 1; Chaffinch 2; Yellowhammer 3. All were new birds, so 11 birds ringed from 6 species. Of these the Blue Tit and Chiffchaff, one each of the Chaffinch and Yellowhammer and two of the Dunnocks were juvenile birds.