What No Finches? Red Lodge, Wednesday, 9th February 2022

With the wind forecast to be gusting quite strongly from the south-west this morning I knew that the scheduled trip to Brown’s Farm would be a non-starter. I chose Red Lodge instead for two reasons: 1) I am doing Ravensroost Wood on Saturday and 2) my net rides in Red Lodge would be protected from the wind by the woodland and the rides running north to south.

Yesterday I topped up all of my feeding stations in the Braydon Forest. I ran into a very pleasant photographer called Mitch Harris at the Firs, whilst topping up there, who later sent me some lovely photographs, including 2 of my colour-ringed Marsh Tits, making use of the feeding station. The benefit of colour ringing these birds is that I can record sightings like these within the BTO’s on-line database, enabling the continued tracking of their survival.

Marsh Tit AAL0191, ringed on 21st February 2020. Photo copyright Mitch Harris
Marsh Tit ALN2254, ringed on 6th September 2020. Photo copyright Mitch Harris

Arriving on site at Red Lodge this morning I was pleased to see that the seed feeder had been reduced by one third since they were topped up at 13:00 on Tuesday. I hoped that this would augur well for a catch of some finches this morning. Unfortunately, that hope was not fulfilled: not a single finch of any description in the nets today. Instead it was almost entirely a catch of Blue and Great Tits.

What was surprising about this catch was that the vast majority of the Blue Tits were unringed when caught. At this time of the winter, at the Braydon Forest sites that I ring most regularly, I expect to find a majority of both Blue and Great Tits to be recaptured birds. The list today was: Nuthatch 2; Blue Tit 18(1); Great Tit 10(5); Coal Tit 1; Marsh Tit 1; Robin (1); Blackbird (1). Totals: 32 birds ringed from 5 species and 8 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 40 birds processed from 7 species.

It was a pretty straightforward session: never too busy, but never an empty round either. There were definite highlights: Rosie got to process half-a-dozen birds before having to leave for work, including a lovely female Nuthatch. A little later I got to process an equally gorgeous male:

Nuthatch Male

It is quite easy to tell male and female Nuthatch apart, if you can get a look at the under-tail coverts. As you can see from this photo, the male has a brick-red surround to the white parts of the feathers. The female has paler, buff surrounds. These colours are replicated om the underwing areas if you are watching them in flight.

I caught and ringed my second Marsh Tit of the year: colour ringed metal over black on the left leg and yellow over red on the right leg:

Colour-Ringed Marsh Tit AEX0926

The wind got up at just after 11:00, so I shut the nets and took down, and left site early (for me) at midday.

If you are interested in seeing more of Mitch’s work, you can find it at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bymitch/

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