This August was a bad one for me, just able to get out for 5 ringing sessions, as I spent much of the month crippled with arthritis, and then fed up with small catches when I could get out. I don’t go for huge catches: 20 to 30 birds per person in a 6 hour session is always my aim. That gives plenty of time for appreciation of the bird in the hand, ensuring we get the details right without stressing either bird or ringer, and for training the team. At the moment it is more like 10 to 12 per person per 6 hour session. Therefore, I am astonished to report that this is our second best August for the group in its current form! Most of that is down to Jonny and his work around the reed beds and waterways at three of his sites.
We didn’t have either of the spectacular catches from last year: Long-eared Owl and Nightjar; nor did we have some of the early migrants / scarcer residents: Whinchat and Meadow Pipit, and several of our regular woodland / garden species, namely Marsh and Coal Tit, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw and Woodpigeon. We ended up with birds from 40 species, compared to 45 in August last year.
We did add a new species to our list: Canada Goose! Why, or how, Jonny managed to catch them I have no idea. I have ringed one with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust a few years ago but don’t fancy doing any more.
My highlight for the month has been Barn Owls: another 7 ringed and 3 recaptured, taking the total ringed this year to 34, the best so far. We also know that all of our broods that advanced beyond the egg stage have fledged some young. The three recaptures were all this year’s birds. There has only been one nest failure: 6 eggs checked back in June and found to be cold then were still there when we checked the box again on the 31st August. An adult has been seen in the area but perhaps it lost its mate and abandoned the brood before it hatched. I still have some boxes to check and, given that second broods are definitely on the agenda this year, with reports from across the country of adults still on eggs and / or naked young, it certainly has been a good year for them and we might be able to add a few more to the list. A word about the landowners: it has been extremely gratifying at how much interest and support they have shown towards our activities monitoring the Barn Owls this year. We have had no problems with access, several have built and erected new boxes themselves. It is hugely encouraging.
This is the list for the month:
Now that September has arrived and the autumn migration is picking up, here’s looking forward to a really interesting and exciting month ahead.