Ravensroost Meadow Pond: Thursday, 30th July 2020

After the problem in the woodland last week I have agreed with the Trust to stay out of there until we can work as a team again. However, the pond area is easy to secure, with a single access gate. The herd of Belted Galloway steers that were occupying the field leading to the pond was additional security.

My last experience of the Belted Galloways left the car covered in cow spit: they just loved licking it. So I dumped all of my kit over the gate, and got the car out of the field again and used it as an additional barrier in front of the gate into the field.

It wasn’t the biggest catch I have ever had, but it was enjoyable. My hope was that there might be a passage of Swallows and House Martins coming through the site and ending up in the pond nets (the white lines):

Unfortunately, only half-a-dozen Swallows came through, and none stopped to drink, so no catch. However, what I was lucky enough to have was a passage of Whitethroats. I have caught just 15 this year: 4 at my first session at the pond, 1 at my recent Brown’s Farm session, and 10 today!

The first bird out of the net was a juvenile Reed Warbler. One day I hope the large pond (the area outlined in red) will be restored, with a decent reedbed, instead of the massive growth of Typha that has taken over the site, and the brush expanding out from the middle of the pond, and we will see both Reed and Sedge Warbler breeding on the site with regularity. When I started birding at Ravensroost in 1998 I regularly heard and saw both species and Moorhens using this pond. Unfortunately, it has degraded over time and now needs significant work to make it productive again.

The second bird out of the nets was a female Jay. If anything shows up the stresses of rearing a brood of hungry young birds it is a Jay in post-breeding moult. This bird’s head was almost completely bald and she looked wretched. Mind, she was just as feisty and dangerous to my hands as any other Jay.

The rest of the morning was slow and steady, with just a couple of birds per round, but it all adds up. The whole catch was: Jay 1; Blue Tit 3; Great Tit (1); Wren 1; Robin (1); Song Thrush 1; Reed Warbler 2; Whitethroat 10; Chiffchaff 1(1); Willow Warbler 3. Totals: 22 birds ringed from 8 species, 3 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 25 birds processed from 10 species.

Of the 25 birds caught only the Jay, Great Tit, Song Thrush and one of the Whitethroats were adults, the remainder were juveniles. Coincidentally, three of those adult birds are resident species. 17 of the birds were summer visitors: possibly bred in the local area, but equally possibly on passage.

With the temperature rising the birds stopped moving and I took down at midday. When I wanted to load the car, fortunately the Belties were elsewhere, lying down out of the sun, so the car escaped unscathed for a second time.

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