If you go down to the woods…. Saturday, 31st July 2021

I haven’t been into Webb’s Wood since November of last year. Over the winter the contractors were on-site carrying out extensive thinning operations in the wood. Once they finished, at the end of February, the track was left impassable to anything but off-road vehicles with high ground clearance. The track was repaired over the next couple of months but with other commitments, and a combination of weather and illness, this was the first scheduled session at the site that has actually taken place since it became accessible again.

In 2015, following the thinning operations at Red Lodge, it took until the winter feeding flocks for the numbers to recover. I was interested to see how the work would have impacted on Webb’s Wood. Part of me hoped that, as the thinning work stopped just shy of my ringing area, that it might have concentrated birds into there. That was tempered by the knowledge that my sessions in July have been just dreadful, with just 53 birds ringed and 25 birds recaptured from 20 species in 7 sessions! 6 of those recaptures were, in fact, revisits to nests to see if the young had fledged. They hadn’t, so the recapture numbers were inflated by 4 Barn Owl and 2 Stock Dove nestlings.

I was joined by Ellie for the morning, and had invited Anna Cooper along for a taster session. Anna is looking for a trainer, having had a little experience of mist netting and ringing whilst doing her Biology degree, and contacted the BTO rep for north Wiltshire, who asked me if I could take her on. Having disposed of one trainee, as Jonny Cooper has graduated to a full A-permit, I have room for another.

Unfortunately, Anna didn’t get the chance to handle too many birds – because we only caught 7! The list was: Coal Tit [1](1); Wren 2[1]; Chiffchaff [1]; Goldcrest [1]. Totals: 2 adults ringed from 1 species; 4 juveniles ringed from 4 species and 1 bird retrapped, making 7 birds processed from 4 species.

This is not to say that it was not an interesting catch: the juvenile Coal Tit and Goldcrest are the first of the year. I knew it was the first juvenile Coal Tit, so took a photo, but didn’t realise it was the first juvenile Goldcrest, and so I didn’t.

As the wind started to get up at about 10:00 and few birds coming in, we packed up and left site just before 11:00. We didn’t manage to put Anna off – she is joining me to check some Barn Owl boxes tomorrow. I am pretty confident she will get a chance to ring her first Barn Owl chick.

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