We last had a session in Red Lodge on the 4th September. I had planned to run a session mid-October but, when driving past a few days before, I noticed this:
The gate support had been sawn off. I went back to have a look and found a lorry load of rubble had been fly-tipped:
I contacted Forestry England to let them know. Due to holidays and staffing it took a couple of weeks to get it cleared. As I was planning on setting up my feeding station over last weekend, on Friday I went back to do some ride clearance. It was great to be able to drive up to our usual parking spot and get on with the task in hand. I went back on Saturday, just after lunch, to set up the feeding station, and found this:
Some deeply unpleasant individual had taken advantage of the fact that Forestry England hadn’t managed to fix the gate and had dumped a load of tree waste in exactly the same spot as the rubble had previously been dumped. I had a chat with David, one of the locals, who told me that when he had walked his dog there that morning, between 10:00 and 11:30, the path had been clear. So whomsoever did this, did it at lunchtime, in broad daylight, on a busy road. I went back on Monday to see whether it was worth me trying to clear it, or if there was sufficient room for the team to park safely away from the road, to find this:
At least this was a natural occurrence. I let Forestry England know again. They are, unsurprisingly, angry and upset about this vandalism and the incurred costs. There is an epidemic of fly-tipping in our area at the moment.
So, I decided that they weren’t going to stop me carrying on with my session. I was joined at 6:30 by Lucy and Miranda for the full session, and Rosie and her new Wildlife Trust colleague, Charlotte, for the start of it. We set nets by the pond and the feeding stations: just 6 nets: 4 x 18m and one each of 9m and 12m.
One thing I noticed immediately: the birds had found the feeders. They were all empty! We refilled them and had all of the nets open by 7:15 and had our first birds straight away. As is usual once the feeders are up, the session was Blue Tit heavy, with a supporting cast of Great Tits. However, we did have some decent catches of other birds: another two Marsh Tits ringed and an older one, ringed in October 2019, recaptured.
I set a lure for Redwing on the net set alongside the pond and lures for Redpoll and Siskin at the 9m and 12m nets. Needless to say, we didn’t catch a single one of the target species. At 10:00 I changed the Redwing lure to Goldcrest, and they turned up straight away. At 11:00 I moved it to the other 2 x 18m net ride and, again, a few more dropped in. I never lure for Goldcrest until well into the session: at approximately 5g in weight, I really don’t want to target them until they have had a chance to warm up and feed first. In fact, unless I am happy with the ambient temperature, I won’t lure for them at all. They are one of the most lure responsive species, and will respond all year round. To date I have not had any cold-related casualties with Goldcrest, and I want to keep it that way.
This Blue Tit decided that it needed a high perch before it flew off back into the wood:
The list for the day was: Nuthatch (1); Blue Tit 20; Great Tit 8(4); Marsh Tit 2(1); Wren 4; Dunnock 2; Robin 3(2); Blackbird (2); Goldcrest 6; Chaffinch 2. Totals: 47 birds ringed from 8 species and 10 birds recaptured from 5 species, making 57 birds processed from 10 species.
We packed up at 11:30 and, as our luck would have it, all the nets were down, the lures switched off, and we were sat at the ringing station processing the last few birds, when a flock of 20 either Siskin or Lesser Redpoll (they were in silhouette) flew into the tops of the trees above the feeding stations! The consensus was that they were Siskin.