Webb’s Wood: Monday, 7th March 2022

We had to cancel last Wednesday’s session at Webb’s, due to the wet weather, so I rescheduled it for this morning. I was joined by Rosie and Tanya. The net setup was as follows:

Fortunately, Rosie was working at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Echo Lodge reserve first thing this morning, right next door to Webb’s Wood, so she was able to stay with us until five minutes before going off to meet her team. Tanya was on her second session with me today. Last session she got comfortable handling birds and today I started her on her ringing career. Delighted to say that she seems to be a natural: she had no problem holding the birds and fitting the rings. Her measurements were almost all spot on with a couple just 1mm out. I know people who have been doing it far longer who aren’t that accurate. Next session I will start her on extracting the birds.

It wasn’t the busiest session, which actually helped. Because we weren’t under the pressure of numbers, I could let Tanya take the time she needed to be comfortable and confident in handling the birds. I was a little surprised that it was as quiet as it was: I filled up the feeders yesterday at about 14:00. I have two peanut and two finch seed mix feeders at the site, which were fully filled yesterday and they had all been reduced by about one-fifth in that relatively short time.

We started off with a few retrap Coal Tits, a couple of new Great Tits and a retrap Marsh Tit at the feeding station on our first round. That was actually our biggest catch of the morning. Thereafter it dropped off to just 2 or 3 birds per round until Rosie went off to work. It was good to get a couple of Goldcrest, so Rosie got to ring one before she had to go. They have been remarkable by their absence this winter.

Tanya and I then had a lull of an hour with no birds but, just as I was deciding that I was getting too cold, this dropped into the 18m net in the 18m + 12m dog-leg setup:

Lesser Redpoll

This is our 38th of the winter in Webb’s Wood: adding to what is already our best winter for them there. Funnily enough, we had been joined by a representative of the contractors who did the thinning at Webb’s in winter 2020/21. They have started removing the timber stacks from that operation and he was collecting up redundant signs from where the stacks have been cleared. Apparently they will all be gone by the end of March. He was interested to know if we had found any difference since the thinning and was genuinely pleased when I told him about the massive increase in Lesser Redpoll activity in the wood this winter.

Tanya and I decided to take down the line of 3 x 18m nets, because it caught absolutely nothing all morning, at 11:00. That was despite my best Brambling lure playing the whole time. We did another round and processed a couple more birds and decided to take down the 2 x 18m net ride only I noticed that a bird had just flown in. It turned out to be this:

Female Siskin

This is the first Siskin that we have caught in Webb’s Wood since March 2017. They have always been a bit hit and miss on the site: back in 2013 my feeding station used to be set up in the a stand of trees adjacent to a large crop of conifers and we caught 15 in a single catch, in 2016 it was 16, in 2017 it was 5, and then the conifers were removed and my feeding station area cleared and we didn’t see another one in the nets until this one arrived this morning.

It seemed that each net set we went to take down decided to have a final bird in it. We eventually got the nets down and left site at just after 12:30. Our total catch for the morning was: Nuthatch (1); Blue Tit 4(1); Great Tit 2(2); Coal Tit (4); Marsh Tit (1); Goldcrest 3(1); Lesser Redpoll 1; Siskin 1. Totals: 11 birds ringed from 5 species and 10 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 21 birds processed from 8 species.

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