Somerford Common: Saturday, 10th April 2021

A quiet session at Somerford Common this morning. I was joined for the session by Andrew and David for a 6:00 start. The weather was really quite cold for an April day and it was breezier than was forecast – and it was a cold wind. The only good thing: the forecast for possible rain did not materialise, other than a few spots at about 9:00.

We set a lot of net, opened by 6:45, but did not get a great deal of return. These were how we set the nets:

I have numbered the net sets so I can refer to them more easily. Sets 2 and 4 delivered no birds at all. Set 5 delivered 2 birds: both at the end of the farthest net of the set. The best net was set 3, which delivered the bulk of the birds, including another new and a retrapped Marsh Tit. Net set 1, nearest our ringing station came a close second.

The site can be like this. One of my first springtime sessions at Somerford Common delivered just 2 birds in the first 3.5 hours – but by lunchtime I had processed over 90 birds, so you can never give it up as a bad job.

It was a good mix of birds: Blue Tit (1); Great Tit 2; Coal Tit 3; Marsh Tit 1(1); Long-tailed Tit 1; Wren (1); Robin 3; Song Thrush 1; Blackcap 2(1); Chiffchaff 2; Willow Warbler 2; Goldcrest 2. Totals: 19 birds ringed from 10 species and 4 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 23 birds processed from 12 species.

The new Marsh Tit was our fourth of the year, and the third at Somerford Common. With Ravensroost Wood and Webb’s Wood both being unavailable to us at the moment (Ravensroost Wood because of the hugely increased footfall since lockdown and Webb’s Wood because of the ongoing forestry operations) it looks like it is up to Red Lodge and Somerford Common to deliver the bulk of this species for us this year.

The two net rounds at 10:45 and 11:00 were empty, so when the next was also empty, we started taking down at 11:15 and left site by midday.

One slightly disturbing situation at Somerford Common: we have found three dead foxes at the site dumped by various entrances. On my way home today I noticed some large feathers sticking up from a grass verge adjacent to one of the stables between Somerford Common and the turning to Ravensroost. I hadn’t noticed them yesterday when I went to check that the rides were clear, so I stopped to see what it was. As I suspected from the colour of the feathers, it was a Buzzard carcass. It was completely disarticulated and the bones defleshed, as it had clearly been well scavenged. The head was also missing. My concern is how close it was to where the fox carcasses have been dumped. It wasn’t roadkill, unless whomsoever hit it had put it 2 metres onto the verge, but it would be sad if we were to see the same intolerance of birds of prey endemic in other parts of the country.

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