Regular readers will know that the area around my winter feeding station was scalped at the beginning of the winter. I got around this by moving the feeding station closer to the standing vegetation and we had reasonable catches over the winter.
Today I planned to carry out my ringing activities in my usual summer net locations. The net ride just up from the ringing station area is used year round and was set up first, as usual. Two of my key net ride areas are highlighted in white on the following photo and this is what I was expecting to find. The main area cannot be seen from the ringing station, as there is a steep hill and some encroaching foliage that hides the view.
When we got into view of the additional ringing areas, this is what we found. Area 1 now looks like this:
Area 2 now looks like this:
It was highly disappointing, and I will now have to find an alternative area for this year’s ringing efforts.
To cap it all: the dry day we were promised disappeared at about 9:00. It wasn’t heavy rain: it was light but persistent. We had hoped that it was a passing shower, and it varied in intensity and at one point it seemed as though it would clear. It seemed that every time we did a round it would start again. The last two birds out of the nest were a retrapped Blue Tit and Great Tit, which we extracted as part of our take down. As luck would have it, once everything was down and we were packing the stuff into my car, the sun came out!
The fact is, though, that we were not catching many birds. The majority were caught in the one net ride retained from our winter set. In that ride we caught our first two Willow Warblers of the year:
The small catch was Blue Tit (1); Great Tit (1); Robin 1; Chiffchaff 4; Willow Warbler 2. Totals: 7 birds ringed from 3 species and 2 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 9 birds processed from 5 species.
I always feel somewhat guilty when sessions go wrong. getting people out of bed early, driving to join you and help you get set up, and then not being able to deliver the birds. Today I was joined by Rosie, briefly, Miranda and Tanya and, a little later on, Claire and her children came along to see how it was going. At least Tanya and Miranda got to process their first ever Willow Warblers.
We were away from site by 10:30, rather disappointed. I had a quick reconnaissance and think that I have found an alternative area to replace the devastation. Over the weekend I will have a more detailed look and establish the net rides.