Webb’s Wood: Saturday, 5th February 2022

An enjoyable, if cold, session at Webb’s Wood this morning. I had a good sized team out with me : Adam, Alice, David, Rob and, able to join us for a full session for once, Rosie. Because of that, we set a few more nets than I would usually do.

The 4 x 18m net line is one I haven’t used for a long time. There were two key reasons: firstly, it seemed to catch an awful lot of same day retraps with the ringing station set where we do (the red mark on the map) and, secondly, it had become very overgrown but this autumn it seems that Forestry England have widened the path and cut back the overhanging vegetation. Funnily enough, it was the only net that didn’t have a same day retrap in it.

The photograph below shows just how it looked pre-thinning so you can compare and see just how much thinning has taken place in the wood. If you have a look back at previous blog posts, it looked like this:

It will be interesting to review in a year or two whether the avifauna has changed much as a result.

It was a very comfortable session inasmuch as we never had a glut of birds: it was a steady procession of birds hitting the nets and getting extracted. That was definitely a good thing, with David back after a 10 week hiatus, Rosie on her first full session for ages, Adam coming along whenever his busy schedule allows and Rob on his third taster session, nobody needed to feel under pressure. What wasn’t very comfortable were the underfoot conditions by the easternmost 2 x 18m nets: the mud was more than ankle deep all along there (it eventually claimed my left wellie boot as we were taking down, I had to laugh, it was funny, if cold, wet and very mucky) and the wind, which wasn’t very strong until we started to take down, but it was bitterly cold. So the ambient temperature was fine but we were still getting chilled.

Once again we lured for Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Brambling. Once again, we caught some Lesser Redpoll but none of the others. Frustratingly, there were Siskin around, in the tops of the trees. Presumably there is still food up there for them and they don’t need access to our feeding station with its luxury finch food!

The list for the day was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Nuthatch 1; Blue Tit 7(4); Great Tit 3(8); Coal Tit 3(1); Marsh Tit (2); Long-tailed Tit 1(4); Wren 1; Robin 1(2); Song Thrush (1); Blackbird 2(1); Chaffinch 1; Lesser Redpoll 2. Totals: 23 birds ringed from 11 species and 23 birds retrapped from 8 species, making 46 birds processed from 13 species. That is pretty decent variety in this woodland at this time of year.

The highlight was definitely adding another couple of Lesser Redpoll to the Webb’s total for this winter. It really has improved beyond anything we have had there before. Is this one improvement due to the thinning?

One of the benefits of having a good sized team out was that both setting up and taking down were much quicker than usual. We met at 7:00 and the nets were open by 7:45 and taking down took just 30 minutes. The nets were closed at 11:45 and we were leaving site by 12:15.

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