West Wilts Ringing Group: November 2021 Results

Another good month for the group, despite some pretty iffy weather, culminating in Storm Arwen.  It is our highest catch for any November since the split at the beginning of 2013. The increase was driven by an increased number of retrapped birds and an astonishing number of Redwing.  We managed 22 proper sessions, ignoring the odd bird blundering into a net in Andy’s, Alice’s or my garden. 

After a slow summer, my sites are beginning to pick up and my little team actually produced 35% of the records.  This year it was 315 ringed and 140 retrapped against 260 ringed and 75 retrapped last year.  A huge contribution to that, despite their numbers being down across the group compared to last year, is Blue Tits, with 111 ringed and 53 retrapped against 44 ringed and 27 retrapped in November last year. 

I don’t think it has anything to do with feeding stations: this year I didn’t actually put up my feeding stations until the first week of the month, to coincide with starting the winter CES at Somerford Common.  Last year I opened them in mid-October, but the weather has been much milder this year.  It might well be that the winter CES is responsible: our session two, on the 28th November, delivered 6 new and 39 retrapped birds.  That 39 represents the difference between the previous best November retrap count and this year’s. 

The clear differences in numbers are the lower than last year catches of Meadow Pipit, Blue and Great Tits, and the astonishing increase in the number of Redwing caught this year.  That is mainly down to a huge increase in the catch on Salisbury Plain compared with last year: 142 vs 31, with honourable mentions for East Tytherton at 60 vs 27 and Sutton Benger at 45 vs 22.  The Salisbury Plain catch was driven by a single catch of 69 on the 16th of the month. 

We also had reasonable increases in the numbers of Wren and Robin ringed.  The number of retrapped Marsh Tits was astonishing: the 3 ringed birds (one at Somerford Common and two at Red Lodge) plus the 18 retraps representing 13 individual birds, with 5 doubles at Somerford Common, making a total of 17 encounters this month. No doubt the winter CES is impacting on the recapture of Marsh Tits at Somerford Common.

My team had several highlights this month: the two Brambling, a first for Red Lodge and a recapture at Somerford Common of a bird ringed at the site in February of this year, both being our first late autumn birds in the Braydon Forest; a Grey Wagtail in the middle of Webb’s Wood, a first for the site, and a solitary Linnet at Blakehill Farm.  One would expect to catch plenty there but we do catch very few: just 2 or 3 per year with the exception of 2018 when we caught 12.

Grey Wagtail (photo by Anna Cooper)
Brambling retrapped at Somerford Common
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