Red Lodge: Saturday, 16th April 2022

A very pleasant session at Red Lodge this morning. I had David, Rob, Rosie and Tanya turn up to help us set up. We all met at 6:30 and set a decent number of nets, as shown below:

As you can see, we have moved from the winter feeding station area and set the ringing station up just to the west of the main net rides. Once we finished setting up, Rosie, Tanya and Rob all had to disappear off to work just before 9:00. David stayed for the whole morning: a morning during which he extracted his 500th bird from mist nets.

We were joined for the morning again by Claire and her two children, Samuel and Zara, plus local resident Darren and his daughter, Esmae. Esmae soon sent her dad packing, and we had the children with us until just after 11:00. This morning we started teaching them how to take wing length measurements. I was impressed at how quickly they picked it up, regularly matching our measurements, or being within 1mm of it. I have a young person’s training endorsement on my ringing permit, and have been DBS checked, so I am fully authorised to work with children and vulnerable adults. The children (and parents) left at 11:00.

One of the nice things about this time of year, if you are a trainer, is that we are between winter migrants, who have moved off, and the summer migrants who have just started arriving, so the numbers are low. This gives time to work with trainees and expand their skills without the pressure of numbers to be processed. With birds coming into breeding condition, it gives time to go through the difficulties of assessing brood patch development and whether or not a bird is showing a cloacal protuberance (the engorgement of the male’s cloaca, prior to its use as the sexual organ).

We spent the morning being serenaded primarily by Chiffchaffs and the odd Blackcap. Funnily enough, that’s a reasonable description of our catch this morning. We caught: Blue Tit 8; Great Tit 1; Coal Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 3; Wren 3(2); Robin 2(2); Song Thrush 1(1); Blackbird 1; Blackcap 4; Chiffchaff 3(2). Totals: 27 birds ringed from 10 species and 7 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 34 birds processed from 10 species.

Although this is only 34 birds, it is actually the largest April catch that we have ever had in Red Lodge:

No guesses why there are no April records for 2020, but I don’t know what I was doing in 2018.

David’s dad, Trevor, as usual, arrived in time to help us get packed away. We, as usual, were running 30 minutes late, as birds kept coming into the nets even as we were shutting them down. Between the three of us we had the nets cleared away and left site by 13:00.

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