West Wilts Ringing Group: June 2021 results

Another interesting month. Overall it is our best catch since the group constituted in its current form but we actually ringed 153 fewer birds than last year’s previous best June, but retrapped 170 more.  The vast bulk of this month’s catch has come from Jonny’s efforts at Langford Lakes, Meadow Farm and the Western Way Balancing Ponds. Given that he spent one of his sessions helping out Graham and Phil with their CES for the North Wilts Group, and last weekend away in Bristol (okay, on the lash), that is quite some considerable effort on his part.  His Reed Warbler retrapping number is phenomenal.

For my part, my CES has been pretty bad compared to 2019, with an absolute dearth of young Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue and Great Tit. In 2019 I caught and ringed 45, 26, 50 and 15 juveniles respectively.  Last year was unavailable because of Covid restrictions and this year I caught 5 Blackcap; 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Great and 0 Blue Tit juveniles during my CES sessions at Lower Moor Farm in June.  That the numbers appear similar are thanks to Jonny’s catches. Imagine what the figures would have been like otherwise!

This was the catch and comparison with last year:

Notable amongst the results are the 2 Stone-curlew.  These are the first and only records I can find for the species for our group in Demon.  I have been told that the colour-ringing project has come to an end, hence these now appear on our group rings, rather than on the project rings.   I am not sure if this means that the Wessex Stone-curlew project itself has ended or just the colour-ringing phase.

Following last year’s hiatus  I was pleased to be able to get out and monitor some Barn Owl boxes in June. Firstly, I was pleased that so many of the team were happy to volunteer to help and, secondly, that we have had such good results.  We have checked 18 boxes and have ringed 5 broods of Barn Owl, totalling 15 young; 1 box had 4 naked young Barn Owls that were too small to ring, 2 boxes had roosting adults in them and we ringed 1 adult female Barn Owl from one of those boxes and we ringed 1 brood of 2 Jackdaw nestlings.  Two of the boxes have Barn Owl eggs in them and another 2 have Stock Doves nesting, each with a clutch of 2 eggs.  So, of the 18 boxes we checked there was activity in 13 of them and breeding activity in 11 of them!  Steph and I revisited the previously unringed brood and ringed the remaining 3 youngsters this morning.  They have a well-stocked larder, which is the same thing that I am finding all over the Braydon Forest area:

Dead Rodents and Owl Pellets and poo – lovely

There were 4 dead rodents amongst that mess!  It is absolutely astonishing that the adults always look so pristine (they live in equally squalid conditions) and that every photo you always see of them, adult or young, they look so clean!

See what I mean – doesn’t it look clean?

I hope to check another dozen boxes this month and then to do the whole lot again in August and, who knows, if it stays as good as this, maybe October.

So a very interesting June. I have little hope for the Blue and Great Tits this year, but with some good weather the warblers should produce at least one additional brood of youngsters, possibly even a third brood if the weather holds.

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