Somerford Common: Saturday, 22nd January 2022

After the last session at Somerford I was rather excited at the prospects for today. I have a huge ten litre seed feeder on site and a normal sized peanut feeder. It was filled up on Tuesday with a finch seed mix and when I went to top it up yesterday, in readiness for Saturday’s session, it had been reduced by one-third. When we arrived on site this morning the level have been reduced by at least one-and-a-half litres, so I was quite confident of getting a repeat of last sessions excellent mix, if not better. Unfortunately, my confidence was somewhat misplaced. Despite setting nearly twice as much net, the catch was two-thirds the size of last session and the winter visitors were conspicuous by their absence.

I have to admit, though, that it was still a very enjoyable session, as I was joined by Ellie, Alice and Anna, with Rob joining us for his second taster session. Good company, good conversation and a reasonable number of birds to process. The nets were set as follows:

The yellow numbers indicate the lures used: 1,2 & 4 = Lesser Redpoll & Siskin; 3 = Brambling; 4 = Redwing until 10:00, followed by Goldcrest.

We had birds regularly throughout the morning but the only finches to get caught were two Chaffinch. One of those had to just be released without being ringed as it was infected with Fringilla papillomavirus. After a couple of years of not seeing this horrible infection it does seem to have made a comeback in the Braydon Forest this year.

The bright spot of the morning was a lovely flock of Long-tailed Tits that dropped into the Redwing / Goldcrest net set at 10:30.

The list for the day was: Blue Tit 12(6); Great Tit 3(6); Coal Tit (4); Marsh Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit 7; Wren (1); Dunnock (1); Robin 2(2); Chaffinch 1. Totals: 25 birds ringed from 5 species and 21 birds retrapped from 7 species, making 46 birds processed from 9 species.

One thing that the relaxed pace of the morning gave was an opportunity for Rob to ring his first few birds, something he hasn’t done for over 4 years, whilst Alice could show her suitability to become a trainer when we advance her to her A-permit, which we are currently working on. Of course, being kind, his first birds processed were two Blue Tits and a Great Tit: nothing like exposing a new ringer to those two species to test their mettle. Another benefit of having an experienced team out was that taking down the nets at the end of the session was a quick and easy process. We processed our last birds at 11:45, then shut the nets and took down and got away from site by 12:45.

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