It was touch and go for a session this morning. Although it was forecast to be dry, there was the threat of winds at a base of 16mph, gusting to in excess of 30mph. Somerford Common is able to offer some relatively sheltered areas but 30+ mph is serious. Opening my door to leave at 6:35, I was disappointed to see that it was raining but, with four of the team turning up to help from varying distances away, I decided to carry on regardless and hope that the forecast would come good. Fortunately, although my windscreen wipers were reacting for the first couple of miles, by the time I got to Somerford the rain had stopped.
I had put up a couple of feeders on Monday morning, on the off-chance that the birds might have discovered it by today and give us a decent haul of birds. They hadn’t, but we ended up with 30 birds, so not too bad.
Arriving on site at 6:45 I was surprised to find Lucy already there and waiting: she’s never late but over 15 minutes early: unheard of for any of my team before today. We were then joined by Rosie, Miranda and Anna and we set to and had the nets open by 8:00. I used the net set that I am going to be using for the winter CES. First opened were the 18m and 12m set along the main ride and, whilst it was still dark, I set the Redwing lure working to see what might drop in whilst we opened the other nets. Twenty minutes later Lucy went to check the nets and set up the ringing station, and she extracted the first birds of the morning: two Long-tailed Tits and (no surprise) a Redwing. As Rosie was doing her usual selfless thing of helping us to set up, before heading off for a hard day’s graft with a chainsaw at Lower Moor Farm, I let her process the first three.
Thereafter, we had a couple of decent catches of Redwing coming to the lure between 9:00 and 10:00. I then changed the lure to Goldcrest, and we started to catch them as well. The other nets had lures for Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Marsh Tit running – all to no avail. Which is not to say that we didn’t catch birds in those nets: just not those species. Ironically, the penultimate bird out of the nets was this, right next to the Goldcrest lure:
Although the tail showed that it was definitely a bird of the year, it had a few pink feathers on the breast, identifying it as a male.
The list for the day was: Blue Tit (2); Great Tit 3; Coal Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 1(1); Robin (1); Redwing 10; Goldcrest 9(1); Lesser Redpoll 1. Totals: 25 birds ringed from 6 species and 5 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 30 birds processed from 8 species.
Throughout the morning it would spit with rain for a few minutes, then dry up for half-an-hour, then spit with rain again. For most of the morning the wind didn’t interfere with the nets, but as the morning wore on the wind did get stronger, and I decided to close the nets and pack up at 11:00. We took down the feeding station nets first, returning to the main ride to find the Lesser Redpoll and a Great Tit in that net set. We were off site by midday.