Should I Have Stayed In Bed: Sunday, 30th May 2021

I arranged this session for Sunday at Brown’s Farm so that Steph could join me, as she is tied up with work and family commitments, except on Sundays and Fridays. We arrived on site at 5:30 and had the nets open by 6:30, before much was moving about. With the ringing station set up we settled in for what I expected to be a busier catch than our session at the beginning of May. It wasn’t!

We caught our first birds at 7:15: a male Whitethroat and a Red-legged partridge. The partridge escaped before we could get to it – but you cannot ring them anyway as the farm runs a small-scale shoot for pheasant and partridge and you need special permission from the BTO to ring them. That was it until 8:45! The next bird out of the net at 8:45 was the male Whitethroat we had ringed at 7:15. Groan! Fortunately, we took another couple of birds out of other nets: a new Blackcap and a retrapped Whitethroat.

At 9:15 we took another two Whitethroat and a Linnet out of the nets and at 9:45 a new Great Tit. That was it for the morning: Great Tit 1; Blackcap 1; Whitethroat 3(1); Linnet 1.

However, that is only a small part of the story of the morning. From soon after we got there and then throughout the morning, we watched and listened to the abundant number of Skylark that inhabit the site. It is a toss up between Brown’s Farm and Blakehill Farm as to which is the the better site we have for Skylark – but Brown’s is purely a commercial farm and, whilst Blakehill is run in commercial lines, it is managed for nature as part of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve complexes. This year the fields they are occupying at Brown’s are all laid to cereals and will hopefully ensure a healthy crop of youngsters.

During one of the quieter spells (one of!!!) we were treated to the spectacle of House Martins collecting mud for their nest building on the farm. I didn’t have my camera with me, so no photos, but I love the way they land and seem to mould great clumps of mud to their beaks before flying off to deposit it at the nest.

Frustratingly, we had plenty of time to watch the abundant (yes, I mean “abundant”) Yellowhammers flying around and over the nets, singing from song perches and making a display of themselves, Chaffinches, more Linnets and Whitethroats, and the occasional Dunnock, all managed to avoid capture and ensure that we didn’t reach double-figures. A male Cuckoo was also busily advertising for a mate. With the sheer number of Whitethroat and Dunnock at this site I am surprised there aren’t more Cuckoos in attendance.

Brown’s is also one of the best sites in the area for seeing Brown Hares, and this morning was no exception, with several seen running around the fields in amongst the cereal crops.

We were also treated to the regular Buzzard and Red Kite sightings. I am sure the Red Kite, which flew in very low around and over us, was checking to see if we were carrion, as we weren’t moving very much. Almost last of the birds noted this morning was a Raven, croaking its way from Savernake Forest towards some other woodland area.

At 10:30 we decided to close the nets and take down and left site by 11:30.

So, in answer to my question in the title: “No” – ringing can be like that. I rarely have such a quiet session but good company and plenty of wildlife to watch is worth getting out of bed for!

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