This was a similar result to CES 11 back on the 14th August: 35 birds – about one third of what we caught in CES 12 in 2019. However, being as unpressured as it was, it enabled me to work with Anna, the newest recruit to the team. After a couple of taster sessions, and the opportunity to ring a couple of Barn Owl chicks, she is now my newest trainee.
In the last taster session Anna ringed her first bird. That bird was handed to her. Today she had to get to grips with safely removing birds from the storage bags, settling it into the ringer’s grip and then setting the ring correctly in the pliers, applying the ring whilst holding the bird, and then taking the wing length measurement, weighing the bird and releasing it. We also touched on ageing, sexing and moult.
Although I now set my nets in areas that are not open to the public, following the well-documented problems with interference, leading to a damaged bird and vandalised nets, at Lower Moor Farm I set up my ringing station in the picnic area on the edge of Mallard Lake. We had a lovely chatty morning, with lots of people stopping to see what was going on, and giving me the chance to explain the rationale and benefits of the ringing scheme. This was finished by a visit from a small group of three families, with 6 children, who were delighted to see Blue Tits and Blackcaps up close. The children were particularly pleased with the amount of aggression the Blue Tit I processed showed: pecking me at every opportunity, including hanging on to my finger with its beak after I had released it.
The catch for the day was: Treecreeper ; Blue Tit ; Dunnock ; Robin (3); Blackcap  (2); Garden Warbler ; Chiffchaff ; Willow Warbler . Totals: 30 juveniles ringed from 8 species and 5 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 35 birds processed from 8 species. Interestingly, the only adult caught was one of the retrapped Blackcaps, so 34 of the 35 birds processed were juveniles. Given how few adults we have caught at Lower Moor Farm (or at any of my sites this year), I strongly suspect that we were lucky to be on the flightpath of a bunch of juveniles starting their autumn migration.
The adult Blackcap was ringed by Steph as a juvenile almost exactly 4 years ago. This was the first time it has been recaptured, and it was retrapped in exactly the same net ride as it was originally. The second retrapped Blackcap was ringed as a nestling in May of this year. It is not one of our rings, so I look forward to finding out where it fledged. The other retrapped birds were all Robins originally ringed at Lower Moor Farm.
One unusual occurrence: throughout the morning, I don’t know if it was just one or a number of, Common Darter dragonflies decided that my head was a good resting place. I was happy to be of service but I would have been happier if I had been able to see it! It was a long session and we finally left site at 13:30.