Blakehill Farm, Part Two: Sunday, 29th November 2020

Part 2 was scheduled for Friday but a bit of illness on Thursday night and freezing weather on Saturday meant that it was put back until today. The idea was to contrast what we caught on the north-east side of the reserve on Thursday with what was to be found in the south-west corner. I was joined for the session by Ellie Jones. My hope was that there might be some Snipe around but, apart from one that was put up as we were setting nets in the dark, we didn’t see any others. The nets set up on a just in case basis caught one bird: a same day retrap Redwing. I got excited when I saw the net moving, and deflated when I realised what it was.

Apart from the pond nets, we went for a very simple net setup, just 4 x 18m along a hedgerow:

The wader nets have a larger 30mm x 30mm net strand length, whereas the standard nets have a 16mm x 16mm strand length. In this set up we put on lures for Snipe on the pond nets and Starling and Redwing on the hedgerow nets. After a couple of hours it was clear that the Starling lure was having no effect, so we replaced it with another Redwing lure, which was working much better.

The first round delivered a Robin, Blue Tit, two Blackbirds and half-a-dozen Redwing. Thereafter it was pretty much Redwing all the way: Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 3; Great Tit 1; Wren 1; Robin 1; Blackbird 2; Redwing 30. Total: 39 birds ringed from 7 species.

For the first two-and-a-half hours the sky was overcast but visibility was good but then a cold mist started to develop and by the time we closed the nets at 11:30 everything was damp and dank and much colder and it was nice to get away.

So, how did the 2 sides of the reserve compare: the key difference was the absence of any Long-tailed Tit in the catch. However, it could have been an almost identical catch, as a flock of them flew along the line of the hedgerow, but at tree-top height, not hedgerow height, and avoided the nets. What was noticeable was that, although they did not come to the lure, there were a significant number of Starlings flying around in small to medium sized flocks.

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