Ravensroost Wood: Wednesday, 15th September 2021

Working in Ravensroost Wood has become a somewhat fraught business since July 2020. I had a number of reasonable sessions in there, with the over-winter feeding station set up, during the period October to December 2020 inclusive. After that I was told by the Wildlife Trust that the footfall in the wood was just too great to be sure that there would not be a repeat of the problems previously encountered. They did not want me potentially being exposed in that way again. The plan was to agree and / or create a series of rides which could be shut off from the general public. This never did happen: we discussed it, and then we were into the breeding season, which put an end to the potential for removing vegetation and creating new rides, still with a lot of discussion and feasibility studies to do. In the end, it was agreed that I could shut off some of the less travelled public rides with “No Entry” and cautioning signs to see if that worked.

On the 8th July I tried out one of the rides using the agreed signs. In four hours I caught two birds: a Blackbird and a Song Thrush! It was the breeding season, so I wasn’t using any sort of lure. Today I tried again, this time with lures for the commoner autumn migrant species: Blackcap and Chiffchaff. None of my woodland sites have been delivering large catches this breeding season, but that was a new low.

I was joined for the session by Rosie from the Wildlife Trust’s estates team and Miranda, both of whom have expressed an interest in ringing. It was an improvement on the July session – just. We had one or two birds per round, but a total of just 14 birds in 6 hours was a poor return for the effort. However, with two potential trainees who hadn’t handled birds before, it did give plenty of time for training them in some of the basics without them feeling pressured. Rosie had to leave at 8:30 to get to work, but Miranda could stay for the whole session.

The list for the session was: Great Tit 2(1); Marsh Tit [1](1); Long-tailed Tit 1(1); Wren 1; Robin 1; Blackcap [3]; Chiffchaff [1]; Bullfinch 1. Totals: 1 bird ringed unaged, 5 adult birds ringed from 4 species, 5 juvenile birds ringed from 3 species and 3 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 14 birds processed from 8 species.

My highlight was a new, juvenile, Marsh Tit: hopefully I will find quite a few more in the next few months, particularly after I set up the feeding station in November or when the weather turns, whichever is the earlier.

I don’t normally ring at Ravensroost Wood on a Wednesday but I had forgotten that it is the day that the Ravensroost volunteers carry out their maintenance works. Sure enough, the volunteer team turned up at about 9:00. They are always interested in the ringing activities and, helpfully, some of them help ensure the winter feeding station is topped up if I cannot make it there for any reason. They are currently scything down the trackside vegetation, as a preparation for winter and next spring, to allow the spring flowers to come through.

Miranda and I packed up at 12:30 and were off site by 13:00.

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