Red Lodge: Wednesday, 23rd June 2021

This was my first visit back to Red Lodge since the problems encountered with a pair of vandals on the 24th April. I have not been back until one of my team was available to join me, as I feel I need to have support and witnesses when in public areas now. Fortunately, Alice was able to join me for the morning. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch many birds.

The list for the morning was: Treecreeper [1]; Great Tit [2]; Wren 1; Robin [3](1); Song Thrush [1]; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 2[2]; Chiffchaff 1. Totals: 5 adult birds ringed from 4 species; 9 juveniles ringed from 5 species and 1 retrap, making 15 birds processed from 8 species.

So, a small catch. Good to get a couple more juvenile Great Tits, tragic that this means that they have overtaken Blue Tits in the juvenile stakes: 3 to 2. Pathetically small numbers when compared with previous years. My catch between the 1st and 23rd June inclusive in 2018 was 13 Blue Tit, 22 Great Tit; in 2019 it was 44 Blue Tit, 17 Great Tit and in 2020, despite the restrictions imposed because of Covid, it was 11 Blue Tit and 19 Great Tit. However, compared to the disastrous year of 2016, it isn’t quite as bad: 1 Blue Tit and 2 Great Tit in that awful year for the young of these species.

It was a little frustrating as we could hear birds calling everywhere: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Marsh, Blue and Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrest, all species we catch regularly at the site, were seen and heard but not caught.

We had chats with some of the regulars, all keen to ensure that we weren’t having any issues with “incomers”. Ian, walking Denver, the biggest, most muscular and friendly Black Labrador you are ever going to meet, and the man who found the dead Buzzard previously blogged about, told me about another Buzzard found badly injured in Red Lodge. This time it was the result of a collision with the overhead power lines. He took it to Oak & Furrows but I suspect it has been euthanised.

After a quick lunch, Alice and I headed off to Waterhay to check on the Barn Owl boxes there. Suffice to say, it was about as productive as our morning session. Box one (which we hadn’t managed to get to last autumn to clean out, as the fields were in use) was full of nesting material: both Barn Owl and Jackdaw. I cleared it out and, hopefully, it will attract in a Barn Owl pair for a later brood. The second box was as completely empty as it had been after cleaning it out last autumn, except for a couple of Jackdaw nest twigs. Although this box is seriously dilapidated, it is the most regularly used for nesting, and we ringed four nestlings there last year. The third box did deliver hope: as we approached an adult flew off from the box. When Alice climbed up to check she found 5 warm eggs in the nest. This looks like a complete clutch, so we will be back to check it again in a month. Hopefully they will be old enough to ring by then.

On the verge where we parked the car to visit box three, I found this on the ground directly under the tree it, presumably, was built in:

It looks like a Goldfinch nest to me. If anybody has a better idea I would love to hear your opinion – I am no expert on nests. I have no idea why it was on the ground. It didn’t look damaged by a predator. We have had young Goldfinch in our Purton garden for over a week now, so hopefully they fledged before it fell out of the tree.

It was a quiet day all round, but Alice is good company, and we have the information for some more productive sessions in a few weeks.

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