Somerford Common: Saturday, 27th February 2021

After yesterday’s cold start, today’s was every bit as cold! When I was anticipating going to Somerford Common on Wednesday I went and topped up the feeders Tuesday lunchtime. The seed feeder there is rather large: it holds 8 litres of seed mix. As the wind put paid to that session, I rescheduled for today and yesterday, after the Lower Moor session, I went to top up the feeders again. The big seed feeder was EMPTY! I was quite surprised, and was a little concerned that we might be a bit overwhelmed this morning. Fortunately, we had a good session with a decent sized, but entirely manageable, catch.

I was joined for the session by Ellie and David. We started on site at 6:30, in minus 2 degrees Centigrade. It warmed up slowly, and by the time we were ready to close up, it was positively warm!

Ellie was very keen to get the chance of her first ever Siskin, and this is the site most likely to deliver it since the original Webb’s Wood feeding station area was thinned by the Forestry Commission. It was the double-edged sword of the laudable act of removing non-native conifers to replace with new native species, but which haven’t yet established enough to provide the same attraction to this species.

The first highlight of the morning was about 9:30 when David shouted “Brambling”, and got to extract his first! This is only the fourth time this species has been caught in the Braydon Forest, with the first and third catches of two birds each being at Somerford Common in February 2019.

As I like to be fair, I insisted on drawing lots to see who, between the two of Ellie and David, would get to process the bird. David won that as well, so his first Brambling extraction and processing. It was a beautiful adult male.

I put a lure for Siskin on at the feeding station and, because we could hear them squabbling in the trees, Jay on the nets on the main path. Neither lure looked like it was going to work and I changed the Jay for Lesser Redpoll but left the Siskin lure running.

Perseverance paid off: at 10:25 a little flock of Lesser Redpoll arrived and four of them flew straight into the net by the lure. A fifth was chuntering away in the tree line behind the net. I removed the four and went off to see how David and Ellie were getting on with the Blue and Great Tit extractions. As I walked up to the feeding station net, where Ellie was extracting aforesaid titmice, I suggested to Ellie that she might like to take a bird out of the top shelf. To be fair, the sun (by then) was in her eyes but she couldn’t understand why I was expecting her to remove a Blue Tit when I was just stood there. So I extracted her Siskin for her!

She did process it. So, two firsts for two of my team this morning has to be pretty good.

As we went back to the ringing station I noticed that the fifth Lesser Redpoll had ended up in the net, so I extracted that as well:

All in all, it was a cracking session. The list for the day was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Nuthatch (4); Treecreeper (1); Blue Tit 13(3); Great Tit 9(3); Marsh Tit 1(3); Long-tailed Tit (1); Dunnock 2; Goldcrest (3); Brambling 1; Chaffinch 4; Goldfinch 1; Lesser Redpoll 5; Siskin 1. Totals: 38 birds ringed from 10 species and 18 birds retrapped from 7 species, making 56 birds processed from 14 species.

That is a tremendous variety for our woodlands at this time of the year. We closed the nets at 11:30 and left site by midday (the beauty of only having 6 nets set and 3 of you to do the work). I went along to the Firs and topped up the feeders for Monday’s session. Who knows? Perhaps more of the same on Monday!

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