Lower Moor Farm: Friday, 26th February 2021

Whilst looking to make up for lost ringing time I had planned to be out on Wednesday and Thursday, only I woke Wednesday morning to find that the tail end of the howling gales of the night before was still too high for setting nets, and Thursday, well you don’t turn down urgent NHS appointments, following a GP’s referral, no matter how much you missed ringing! (Sorry, people, I will be around for a while longer yet.) So I moved Thursday’s session to today.

So this morning I headed out to Lower Moor Farm for a session. During January and February you usually acclimatise yourself to getting up earlier and earlier as the dawn breaks ever earlier. With the long gap from lockdown this has rather been missed: going straight from nice, civilised 7:00 starts to 6:00 already. It isn’t going to get any better for a couple of months (when the clocks spring forward). It was somewhat surprising to find the car frozen when I exited the house. In fact, the temperature was at minus 2 degrees Celsius until about 8:30, when it reached a balmy zero. But the skies were clear, the sun was out and the wind was non-existent. By 10:00 it was lovely and warm. I only set my usual two rides of 2 x 18m and 3 x 18m plus one additional 12m net opposite the 2 x 18m ride. This was because I had set up a small feeding station between the two rides a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to catch the birds coming to the feeders from either side.

I was joined by Steph and Lillie (and Beatrice) for the session and it was a pleasant morning with a reasonable number of birds from a small spread of species. We caught: Blue Tit 5(7); Great Tit 3(3); Long-tailed Tit 6(1); Wren (1); Dunnock 2; Robin (1); Song Thrush 3; Goldcrest (1); Bullfinch 1(1). Totals: 20 birds ringed from 6 species and 15 bird retrapped from 7 species, making 35 birds processed from 9 species.

We did actually catch two other Bullfinches: a male and a female. Unfortunately both of them were suffering from Fringilla papillomavirus and could not be ringed.

The highlights of the catch were twofold. One was a small flock of Long-tailed Tits that needed ringing. Since 2016, when they had a bad year on my sites, we usually catch more already ringed than unringed for this species, so this made a nice change. Out other highlight was a catch of three Song Thrushes. We often catch one or two but three is very unusual for this site.

One other potential highlight is a retrapped Great Tit: it is not wearing one of our rings. Checking previous recoveries with rings starting ADL8, I found a Reed Bunting, recovered at Blakehill Farm that was ringed at Waterhay. I suspect that is where this bird was ringed.

It is pretty clear that a lot of pair bonding / mate advertising was going on. A Great Spotted Woodpecker spent the morning flying around and drumming. Both the Egyptian and Canada Geese were flying around making a devil of a racket and the Canada Geese were particularly belligerent towards each other. There was a flock of at least 20 Black-headed Gulls making one heck of a racket while I was putting up the nets. They then settled down and, whilst they were still in evidence hunting over the lakes, I heard little from them for the rest of the morning.

Steph and the girls left about 11:00 (Lillie had to get back for her online schooling) and I packed up at 11:30 before heading off to Somerford Common to top up the feeders for tomorrow’s session. I have a large feeder there: it holds 8 litres of seed. I topped it up on Tuesday afternoon, after our Red Lodge session. I was a little surprised to find it completely empty this lunchtime. Should be a busy session tomorrow.

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