What, no Redwing? Red Lodge: Thursday, 17th December 2020

On Friday last I went to set up a feeding station at the Forestry Commission site at Red Lodge, planning to get out to the site this Thursday. The weather in the run up to Christmas is pretty bad, with Tuesday, 15th and Thursday, 17th currently looking like the only days likely to be dry and not too windy before Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, on arriving at the Red Lodge site I found that the standard padlock was not in use, and there was a combination padlock in place.

Rob, the Beat Forester, sent me the code and so, after my session at Lower Moor Farm on Tuesday, I went over to Red Lodge and set up the feeders: peanuts in two and a seed mix in the other two. Ironically, had I looked closer on Friday I would have seen that the contractor for whom it was set up hadn’t actually used it to lock the barrier, had just balanced the barrier on the lock post and I could have got access on Friday.

For this morning’s session I was joined by Lucy and Alice. We had a late start: 7:30, but were only setting up a few nets, which we had managed by 8:00. I warned them that, with the feeding station only being set up Tuesday lunchtime, the catch probably wouldn’t be huge. 101 birds later my bluff was called!

The first two birds out of the nets were a couple of Blackbirds. Needless to say, the bulk of the catch was made up of Blue and Great Tits, but the catch was a bit more varied than that. However, pretty well uniquely for my sites this winter, there wasn’t a single Redwing in the catch, despite 2 lures playing for most of the morning.

At 9:50 we had a small feeding flock of Long-tailed Tits caught in one net. We processed them and returned them to the catching bags so that they could be released together. I love watching them fly off, buzzing their contact calls as they disappear into the trees.

At 10:30 I changed the Redwing lure for a Goldcrest one, and we immediately caught a small number of them. They do come readily to the lure, so I never start it off before 10:30, until they have had plenty of time to get a feed in. Not that I have ever had a problem with Goldcrest’s being adversely affected by being caught and processed, but I never want to.

The list for the day was: Nuthatch 1; Blue Tit 39(14); Great Tit 13(2); Coal Tit 3(2); Marsh Tit (2); Long-tailed Tit 7(1); Wren (3); Robin 7; Blackbird 3; Goldcrest 4. Totals: 77 birds ringed from 8 species and 24 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 101 birds processed from 10 species.

The last bird out of the net was a Blackbird, immediately preceded by a Nuthatch.

Nice to top and tail the catch with some Blackbirds.

We started to pack up at just gone 11:30, just as the wind got up and were off site by midday (the benefits of not setting lots of net and having a crew to help).

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