The Firs: Saturday, 19th June 2021

After yesterday’s torrential rain, which put an end to my plans to check even more Barn Owl boxes, I was rather worried as to what we would find at the Firs this morning. It was justified. I was joined by Ellie for the session, and we had far too much time to sit and chat, as there were few birds hitting the nets.

We set 7 x 18m nets down the central glade and all nets did catch but only 17 birds. The catch for the day was: Treecreeper [1](1); Blue Tit (1); Great Tit (1); Coal Tit (1); Wren 2(1); Dunnock 1; Robin [3](1); Song Thrush 1; Blackbird (1); Blackcap 1; Bullfinch 1. Totals: 6 adults ringed from 5 species, 4 juveniles ringed from 2 species and 7 birds retrapped from 7 species, making 17 birds processed from 11 species.

Conspicuous by their absence were any juvenile Blue or Great Tits. The highlight of the catch was our first juvenile Treecreeper of the year:

Not only the highlight but it was very obliging in posing for a photo. I so rarely take a decent photograph of this species: they tend to hunch in the hand and that, coupled with its seriously decurved beak, always makes them look so miserable, so I am pleased with this photo.

On one of our early rounds Ellie noticed this handsome creature straddling two plants:

Photo by Ellie Jones

Neither of us are experts but, after reviewing our field guides and then checking photos on the internet, I agree with Ellie’s diagnosis of Oak Beauty, Biston strataria. Although most pictures show the caterpillar as grey, there are different colour morphs, and this fits one of those. Particularly diagnostic are the muted orange face and rear end and the various small protuberances along the body. Also, the habitat and timings are all fitting for this species. It should develop into one of these if it gets to pupate:

Caught at light in my Purton back garden

With the catch having dwindled away to nothing we took down at 11:30 and left site just after midday. Lovely chatting to Ellie, just need a few more birds next time!

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