Hello again! It’s been a long time!

Back on the 6th January bird ringers in England were instructed / strongly advised by the BTO that, although being a voluntary activity excluded from lockdown by the government guidelines, we should confine ourselves to within the boundaries of our property to avoid “reputational damage” to the BTO and the ringing scheme. Subsequently, the birds seemed to desert my garden and between then and today I had processed precisely 2 birds: both recaptured Blue Tits.

On the 12th February we received a second email from the BTO which said that our surveys were legal and unlimited, with no mention of the previous concern about reputational damage and sticking to the boundaries of our property. Naturally, immediately upon receipt the weather took a huge turn for the worse and ringing was impossible anywhere, either in the garden or on my sites. Today was the first day since then that I have been able to get out. I knew it would be windy so I decided that Red Lodge would be the best site: a small number of nets focused around 2 feeding stations.

On Friday last I set up the feeders at my various local sites and yesterday I went over to top up the feeders at the sites to be visited this week. I was pleased to see that the birds had been tucking in to the food at Red Lodge and was looking forward to a good catch. Lucy joined me for a 7:00 start and we set up just 4 nets: 2 x 18m in a line plus 1 x 9m and 1 x 12m each adjacent to a set of feeders.

It was clearly going to be Blue and Great Tit heavy and, in fact, outside of those two species we only had birds from 3 other species. The first non-Blue / Great Tit was a new first winter Marsh Tit, our second of the year. Next into the nets was a Robin hotly pursued by this guy:

Fortunately for the Robin it hit the net just high enough away from the Sparrowhawk to be out of its clutches. Whilst Lucy removed the Robin, I took out the Sparrowhawk. Both birds were processed and released unharmed.

The list for the morning was: Sparrowhawk 1; Blue Tit 25(5); Great Tit 4(5); Marsh Tit 1; Robin 1. Totals: 32 birds ringed from 5 species and 10 birds recaptured from 2 species.

The wind became excessive at just after 10:30, so we shut the nets, packed away and were off site by 11:30. The weather is looking good for the rest of the week, so I am planning to get several sessions in, starting at the Firs tomorrow, then Lower Moor Farm on Thursday, Blakehill Farm on Friday and Somerford Common on Saturday. That should cure my withdrawal symptoms!

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