Not trivialising it but, being on the fringes of storm Malik, we had wind speeds gusting to 40mph on Saturday, so I had to shift Saturday’s session to Sunday. Unfortunately, that meant that I would be working solo as my three putative helpers were unavailable today. Having filled the feeders on Tuesday, when I did the other Braydon Forest sites, I did my usual of going to top up the feeders at my target site the day before. I have two medium sized peanut feeders and one 2.5l seed feeder at this site. Working on the possibility that the session would be on Saturday, I went back on Friday, just three days later, to find all feeders empty. That was indicative that we would have a busy session. I filled them ready for whenever the session took place. Our last session there. on the 9th January, produced 36 ringed and 33 retrapped, with lots of tangled, difficult extractions. I was rather concerned at what might happen this time, especially as I would now be working solo. Arriving on site at 7:00, I started erecting the nets and had them all up and open by 7:45. My concerns about the potentially busy nature of the session were further heightened by the fact that those feeders were, once again, empty.
I set 6 nets: 2 x 18m along the main ride plus 2 x 9m nets and 2 x 6m nets around the feeders:
The two yellow crosses (nearest the top) are the peanut feeders and the bottom green cross is the seed feeder. Given the current discussions regarding feeding: the seed I feed is a small seed, finch mix, with no wheat. I refilled them for the third time in a week.
It was a much less busy morning than last time. Given the rate at which the feeders were being emptied, and given that there is no sign of squirrel involvement, I was surprised that it wasn’t busier. Perhaps they are all fed to capacity! I am not complaining, I ended up processing 40 birds and every round was unpressured and enjoyable. There was a lot footfall in the wood today and a lot of people stopped to chat. I rarely find people are antagonistic when they see you processing the birds. It gives me the chance to explain about how we catch the birds, and helps them understand about how the nets work, removing that potential source of conflict.
The undoubted highlight of the day was my first new Marsh Tit of the year. It was a second year bird. Alongside it we also retrapped three others: two of which were the same age as the one ringed today, the other is a year older.
I didn’t catch a single winter visitor species. There was no sign of any Redwing, Lesser Redpoll or Siskin. In fact, the only winter visitor I saw, and didn’t catch, were a couple of over-flying Fieldfare. There were a few birders who stopped to chat and, upon their return from scouting the wood, confirmed that it was devoid of those winter species.
The list for the day was: Blue Tit 8(10); Great Tit 7(6); Coal Tit (2); Marsh Tit 1(3); Robin 2; Chaffinch 1. 19 birds ringed from 5 species and 21 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 40 birds processed from 6 species.
I closed the nets at 11:45 and left site by 12:45.