Red Lodge: Saturday, 4th September 2021

I was surprised to find that this is the first time I have visited Red Lodge in a September since 17th September 2016. In number terms, the results were rather similar, with 37 processed this morning and 39 processed back then. The species make up was quite different, and we only had one retrapped bird this morning, compared to 10 back then.

I was joined by Anna for the morning, and she got her first real experience of just how much fun Blue Tits can be! Because the key catch this morning was an encouraging number of Blue Tits. Every one caught was a juvenile completing its post-fledging moult. That does seem to have been an extended process this year, given that most will have fledged during June. However, given how few we have processed this summer, to catch 16 in a single flock was surprising and very welcome.

Not only have Blue Tits been in short supply in our catches in the Braydon Forest this summer but Coal Tits have been virtually non-existent! Before today, only three were caught since the beginning of May, and only one juvenile. Today we managed to add just one more juvenile and no adults. Similarly, we have only caught seven Great Tits in the woodlands in that period, and two of those were actually in the Ravensroost Meadow area, not inside the wood. Of those, only two were juveniles and they were both caught in Red Lodge. Today we added another three juveniles and an adult to that total, but the numbers are still way down on normal. As for Marsh Tits, what Marsh Tits? Just two juveniles on Somerford Common in June: no other adults or juveniles. Not Paridae but Long-tailed Tits have also been missing: before today just 1 caught, at Ravensroost Meadows in the period. Today we added 1 new bird and recaptured another that was ringed in Red Lodge on 2nd January 2019.

My highlight of the morning was to catch three of these:

This Nuthatch was the second bird out of the nets, a male, with two others, both females, arriving in our large catch in the round at 10:00. What is particularly nice about this catch of three was that, whilst we can catch them in those sorts of numbers, it is usually when they have been attracted to a feeding station, which means that they are often recaptures. Indeed, the only other Nuthatch caught in this summer period was a retrap at the Firs. These three were all new birds. Only one could clearly be aged as a juvenile: the other two having fully completed their moult, which renders the adults and juveniles indistinguishable from each other (as is also the case with Long-tailed Tit and House Sparrow amongst the species I am likely to encounter).

The list for the day was: Nuthatch 1[2]; Blue Tit [16]; Great Tit 1[3]; Coal Tit [1]; Long-tailed Tit 1(1); Wren [4]; Robin [2]; Blackcap 1; Chiffchaff [4]. Totals: 4 adults / full-grown ringed from 4 species, 32 juveniles ringed from 7 species and 1 retrapped bird, making 37 birds processed from 9 species.

One of the nice things about Red Lodge are the people who live locally. They have always been friendly, interested and helpful (the vandals from a previous session were not locals, they were post-lockdown joggers (for want of a better word that won’t contravene the BTO’s social media guidelines)), with colour ring sightings of the Marsh Tits and offers to top up the feeders when the feeding station is up in the winter. In return, I play host to them and their children when they want to see the birds. Today we were joined by Esme (and her Dad) who was delighted to have the chance to be pecked by Blue Tits! Perhaps she is a ringer in waiting!

The breeze got up a bit and the birds had stopped coming in, so we closed the nets at about a quarter to midday, took down and left site about 13:00. It was great to have a normal session once again!

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