What seemed to be a quite remarkable month for us in January has actually turned out to be comparable with both 2019 and 2020. I am not going to do my usual comparison with the previous year’s equivalent: that would be grossly unfair, given that we went into lockdown and were confined to our gardens after the 10th of the month, and only 207 birds were processed. So I am going to compare with 2020: those halcyon pre-Covid days. January 2020 was our second best January since the group split. Our best to that time was actually 2019: 666 birds processed but, at 601, 2020 was pretty good.
This year we have had a 50% uplift on 2020: 958 birds processed from 34 species, compared to 601 processed from 29 species. However, we managed to fit in 20 full sessions this January, compared to only 13 in 2020. Presumably we have benefitted from the weather giving us more opportunity to get out and about. In reality we have actually processed just 1.5 more birds per session this January compared to 2020. January 2019 actually comprised 17 sessions, and 8 birds fewer per session than in 2022.
These are the results:
When you look at the bald figures Blue Tit numbers look so much higher compared to 2020. However, the actual number processed per session in 2022 is 17.6 and the number processed per session in 2020 was 17.6! This is pretty similar with most of our commonly caught species.
However, there were clear increases in the numbers of Wren, Robin, Song Thrush, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and Redwing caught this month (despite Redwing showing very little interest in the lure this side of Christmas) and an excellent catch of Lesser Redpoll.
This is our best ever January catch of Lesser Redpoll, going back through all of the records in DemOn, which has records for the species from 2003 onwards, 19 years ago. The majority were at Somerford Common, and another 7 at Webb’s Wood and 3 at Lower Moor Farm.
Jonny caught 4 Chiffchaff (2 each at East Tytherton and Langford Lakes), which is our best for recent times. Funnily enough, he caught two at Langford Lakes on New Year’s Day 2021. The only other January catch of modern times was at Lower Moor Farm in 2017.
Individual highlights include: Jonny’s Water Rail at Langford Lakes and his Green Woodpecker and Brambling, both firsts for his East Tytherton site; my first Firecrest for Lower Moor Farm, my second ever Pied Wagtail at Brown’s Farm (actually, just getting out there was a delight, it is as difficult to get out there as at Blakehill Farm, it is every bit as exposed and the slightest breeze puts it out of contention), Andy got his second ever Corn Bunting for his SPTA site and Alice got her second Lesser Redpoll for Hogacre Eco Park.
Unfortunately, due to an outbreak of avian flu in Castle Eaton on the 10th December, Steph couldn’t ring her garden and I could not get to Blakehill Farm, nor a large part of Red Lodge, as both were inside the 10km surveillance zone (it was lifted yesterday). To be honest, the only reason I was at Lower Moor Farm was because the avian flu outbreak had meant that I was, potentially, overdoing it at the available sites. The outbreak meant that I couldn’t carry out my usual attempts for Snipe and Jack Snipe at Blakehill, as happened so successfully back in 2020 (1 Snipe and 3 Jack Snipe in one session).
There was one significant reduction compared with 2020. Greenfinch. In 2020 Jonny’s East Tytherton and Sutton Benger sites produced all 36 birds. This year all bar one was at Sutton Benger, a third of the catch there in 2020, one at Melksham, and none at East Tytherton.
Anyway, a very interesting month, let’s hope February is as good.