Somerford Common: Saturday, 1st August 2020

Delighted to have Steph and Lillie join me for a session at Somerford Common this morning for the first time since lockdown. This is how we set up today:

It was rather pleasing that the first birds into the nets this morning were in the nets nearest the ringing station and were a couple of Bullfinch: a female and our first juvenile of the year:

This was followed by a bit of a deluge of Robins, providing exactly one-third of our total catch, with 11 (10 ringed and one retrapped). The session was never busy, a few birds in every round, but it built up into a reasonable total in the end.

The catch was: Blue Tit 2(2); Great Tit 1; Wren 3; Dunnock 1; Robin 10(1); Blackbird 3(1); Blackcap 4; Garden Warbler 1; Willow Warbler 1; Goldcrest 1; Bullfinch 2. Totals: 29 birds ringed from 11 species, 4 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 33 birds processed from 11 species.

Again, there was a significant proportion of juvenile birds in the catch: Blue Tit 2; Great Tit 1; Wren 3; Dunnock 1; Robin 11; Blackcap 3; Garden Warbler 1; Goldcrest 1; Willow Warbler 1; Bullfinch 1. 25 of the birds processed from 10 species were juveniles. Surprisingly, given how many of them have been turning up in my catches this year, the only species for which we didn’t catch a juvenile in this session was the Blackbird.

The two juvenile Blue Tits were in the middle of moulting out their greater coverts. All of the covert feathers had been dropped and had the replacement feathers in the early stages of regrowth. Both had wings of 65mm, which probably means that they are males. One thing I have noticed is that the bulk of the juvenile birds that retain any greater coverts into their second summer have wing lengths of 63mm or less, suggesting that retention is a female trait.

As at Red Lodge recently, my most difficult extraction of the day was an Emperor Dragonfly:

There is something very satisfying about successfully extracting these beauties from your nets. They do have a pretty good bite on them.

We had a very pleasant discussion with an elderly lady and her photographer grandson (We are British, we don’t bother with names!). It turned out that the lady and her late husband had both been bird ringers themselves. Small world.

With the BBC, Met Office, Meteo and xcweather all giving different weather forecasts (the first two saying it was going to be raining from 10:00; the last two saying there was unlikely to be rain before midday) we did keep a close eye on the weather. In the event, there was a brief shower as we were completing our take down at 11:30, so we didn’t get too wet, and were away from site by noon.

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