CES 9: Lower Moor Farm, Monday, 26th July 2021

I have decided that I must stop moaning about the low catch totals at my CES this year. It is pretty clear what has happened: Blue & Great Tits have had a bad year; summer migrants just kept moving away from the rain in May, so they are not on site. Something that was very obvious this morning when I didn’t catch a single Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat or Willow Warbler.

So, what was good about this morning? The stand-out for me was the first juvenile Green Woodpecker of the year:

Mind, I am not sure it was impressed as it poked its tongue out at me:

It flew off strongly over the tree-tops when released. What particularly pleased me about this bird is that I caught an adult female with an extremely well-developed brood patch at my session on the 16th June. Both birds were caught in the same set of nets and I am hopeful that this means she has successfully reared her brood. I don’t catch many Green Woodpeckers: only 15 since 1st January 2013. Of those, all bar one, caught at Somerford Common in August 2016, have been caught at Lower Moor Farm. All of those, bar one, has been caught in the Wildlife Refuge area. This is not really surprising, as the refuge area is absolutely dotted with ants’ nests. The mounds make walking around there quite a trip hazard but massively attractive as a food source for these specialist feeders.

The other pleasing catch was my second juvenile Garden Warbler of this season at Lower Moor Farm:

I love the haughty expression. This bird, very unusually, sat on the palm of my hand for 30 seconds before flying off when I released it. Bullfinches will do that but not many others and this was a first for me with this species. This is a key reason for ensuring you put a hand under the bird when you release them: sometimes they don’t realise that they have been released.

One of the other catches was my first juvenile Song Thrush of the year. If anyone needs to know how hard it has been for some species, this photo is not one of Jedward having a bad hair day, this is its tail:

As you can see, every tail feather has broken at about half-distance. This will be along a line of weakness that we describe as a fault bar. Usually this is caused by a disruption to the food supply, quite often due to inclement weather.

The list for the day was: Green Woodpecker [1]; Treecreeper [1]; Great Tit [1]; Wren [4]; Dunnock (2); Robin [2](1); Song Thrush [1](2); Blackbird 1; Cetti’s Warbler [1](1); Reed Warbler 1; Garden Warbler [1]; Chiffchaff 1[2](1). Totals: 3 adults ringed from 3 species, 14 juveniles ringed from 9 species and 7 birds retrapped from 5 species, making 24 birds processed from 12 species. So nice to see that there was a good proportion of juvenile birds in the catch. It does, however, compare with 75 birds processed from 19 species in CES 9, 2019.

The final part of my session found me showing a group of teenage, male, school children and their teacher a Cetti’s Warbler. I love the way that something as simple as showing these lads a bird in the hand excites them and piques their interest. It doesn’t matter how “cool” they are, they get involved. The lad who got to be shown how to hold and release the bird could not believe his luck! It was a shame that I was closing up and it was the penultimate bird out of the nets. By the time I got to the final bird, the juvenile Treecreeper, they had moved on.

I took down and was off site by 12:45.

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