Spring is in the air: Red Lodge, Saturday, 12th March 2022

So Spring is in the air: well, we did have a couple of very sharp showers, the second containing a surprising mini-hailstorm, interspersed by a couple of bright sunny spells, that brought an early end to our activities. Once again, we were failed by inaccurate weather forecasting. At 10:00 last night, on Meteo, the Met Office and xcweather, the forecast for today was for it to rain until 7:00, to be dry and breezy until midday, with a yellow warning for wind and rain this afternoon. I put the start time back to 7:00, from 6:00, to avoid the rain, only to wake to a clear morning and a dry car: clearly the overnight rain had cleared much earlier than forecast.

I was joined by David, Tanya and Rob. Tanya works with Rosie at the Wildlife Trust and, just like Rosie, arrived to help set up, ring a couple of birds and then went off to work. I had filled up the seed and peanut feeders on Thursday afternoon, so I was pleased to see that considerable inroads have been made into the seeds and the peanuts. Unfortunately, that optimism didn’t last long as the numbers coming into the nets were very low.

The only finch that we caught this morning was a juvenile male Chaffinch. We heard Brambling and saw a reasonable sized flock of Siskin, but they weren’t interested in the seed or the lure. Interestingly, one of the local residents, David, was walking his lovely black lab, Denver, and stopped to chat as usual. He described how, middle of last week, they had been walking along the north edge of the wood when they disturbed a flock of some 50+ finches foraging on the ground at that edge: sounded awfully like a flock of Brambling.

So, why “Spring is in the air”? There was a lot of bird song and, as we were putting up the feeding station nets, we heard our first Chiffchaff of the year singing. An hour-and-a-half later we caught out first of the Spring:

Chiffchaff: note the tiny pollen horn at the base of the bill

An hour later we caught our second of the year. As we were processing the catch from that round we felt the first few drops of rain, and then it started. At first I thought it might pass, so we went and shut the nets until it stopped, then the sun came out again. Just when I was thinking that we might reopen the nets, the rain started again, but harder, and it was obvious that there was more to come, so we took down and went home.

The list for the day was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Blue Tit 4(2); Great Tit 4(2); Coal Tit 2(2); Chiffchaff 2; Goldcrest 2; Chaffinch 1. Totals: 16 birds ringed from 7 species and 6 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 22 birds processed from 7 species.

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