Blues? What Blues? Somerford Common: Wednesday, 5th January 2022

Obviously a reference back to my last visit to Somerford Common where I found that Forestry England had mulched the entire area around my feeding station, with a subsequent drop off in the catch that day. As a result, I moved the feeders into an area closer to the remaining tree line. It is still in the mulched area, but has a tree-lined berm, a number of guard trees and some of the Blackthorn retained, because they are bearing the eggs of Brown Hairstreak butterflies. That, along with Marsh Fritillary, are key butterfly species for Forestry England in the Braydon Forest.

To be honest, I was just delighted to get out, having tried unsuccessfully on four occasions since the 22nd December. I was joined for the morning by Rosie and Jonny. Rosie did her usual: helped us set up and then had to head off for work at the Wildlife Trust having ringed a solitary Blue Tit. Jonny was also off to work but for 11:00, so he got to ring a few more birds. The set up was as follows:

The only net set that was retained is the one on the main path. The two white dots represent the feeding station. We put a lure for Redwing on the main path, and lures for Lesser Redpoll either side of the feeding station.

The first round proper, after Rosie had departed, gave us hope for rest of the session: as well as the expected Blue and Great Tits we had three each of Chaffinch and Goldfinch. We also caught our only two Redwing of the session, adjacent to the lure. There were quite a few Redwing flying around but, for once, they ignored the lure.

The next round delivered a couple of Lesser Redpoll. Jonny, despite being the busiest of our group, with some excellent sites, does not have one that consistently produces Lesser Redpoll, so he was really pleased with the catch. When the next round produced another bunch of Lesser Redpoll, he was very happy. This one was a retrap from my last ringing session, in Webb’s Wood on 22nd December:

Adult female Lesser Redpoll

The next round was much quieter. In fact, it stayed quiet until after Jonny left just after 10:30. Thereafter it got quite busy again and the list grew to a decent number. In fact, it was our fifth largest catch at the site. The list was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Nuthatch (1); Blue Tit 16(9); Great Tit 2(3); Coal Tit 1(2); Marsh Tit (3); Wren (1); Robin 2(1); Redwing 2; Goldcrest (1); Chaffinch 6; Goldfinch 9; Lesser Redpoll 10(2). Totals: 48 birds ringed from 8 species and 24 birds retrapped from 10 species, making 72 birds processed from 13 species.

This augurs well for our scheduled ringing demonstration at Somerford Common on the 19th February!

I closed the nets at 12:30, and processed the last birds of the session, an hour later than I had planned, because the birds just kept coming, and then took down and was away from site by 13:45.

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