The Firs: Friday, 22nd October 2021

With Wednesday blowing at gale force for most of the day, with occasional downpours as well, I postponed that session to Friday. Also, because there was still a significant amount of wind forecast, coming from the west, and the rides there running from north to south, I moved the session to the Firs.

I was joined for the morning by Rosie, doing her usual of dropping in to help and heading off to work soon after the nets are open, Miranda and Lucy. Thanks to half-term, a little later we were joined again by Claire with her son Samuel and, this time, daughter Zara. Once again they were given the opportunity to be pecked by Blue Tits and Great Tits. Samuel has expressed a wish to take up ringing, so he is going to have to get used to getting pecked first.

The first round was good: just 4 birds but from 4 species. These were given to Rosie to process and then she headed off to her day job as an estates worker for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Our second round was satisfying as a small tit flock hit with 11 new birds and 2 retraps. The third consisted of two each new and retraps – and then we had a big tit flock of 21 new birds and 8 retraps. Miranda took over scribing duties so I could focus with Lucy on clearing the catch as quickly as possible.

The list for today was: Treecreeper (1); Blue Tit 22(6); Great Tit 6(6); Coal Tit 2; Long-tailed Tit 2; Wren 2; Robin (1); Redwing 1; Song Thrush 1; Goldcrest 3. Totals: 39 birds ringed from 8 species and 14 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 53 birds processed from 10 species.

Given how poorly the breeding season went for Blue and Great Tits this year, I am catching an astonishing number of juveniles this autumn: 23 of those processed were juvenile Blue Tits and 5 of the 6 Great Tits ringed were also juveniles.

Equally, since the beginning of October there has been a sudden upsurge in the numbers of birds being caught in the woodland sites, despite no change to our regime: same number of nets in the usual places. I will be setting up the feeding stations next week so it will be interesting to see what happens then.

With three of us to get it done, we packed up at about 11:15, it didn’t take long and we had all left the site by midday.

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