Blakehill Farm West: Wednesday, 20th April 2022

A bittersweet morning this morning: we had a quiet but interesting session. Bittersweet because it is the last session that Tanya will be joining me, as she is moving to Shropshire to start a new job, having finished her traineeship with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Along with Rosie, she has turned up for nearly every session, to help me get set up before heading off to work, with barely a chance to process any birds. I shall always be grateful. If any ringing trainer in Shropshire is reading this and is looking for a capable, willing helper with a lovely personality to go with it, drop me a line. It will be shame to lose her from the ringing community.

We were joined by Miranda for the morning, which helped make setting up very straightforward:

The ringing station was next door to the Whitworth Building which, for the first time in ages, had the added bonus of being open for most of the morning, offering facilities not often enjoyed by the female members of the team.

Just after eight we were joined by Claire and her children. Zara is quite remarkable: birds of many species will happily sit on her hand far longer than I have seen with any other individual. We are all used to some birds sitting there until they realise they have been released, particularly Bullfinch, but with Zara it seems that virtually every bird is comfortable sitting there until they are prompted to fly off. Perhaps it is the size and shape of her hand that reminds them of being in the nest.

We were serenaded by the Curlew flying around the plateau and calling with their bubbling song. I am pretty certain that at one point we had a Cuckoo fly across the site. Someone passing by swore blind it was a raptor, because of its swept back wings, but Cuckoos can look that way as well. Unfortunately it had disappeared by the time I got my binoculars out of the case. We didn’t hear it calling but hopefully next time!

We had a quiet session, just a few birds each round, but it was enjoyable. The list was: Great Tit 1; Wren (1); Dunnock (1); Robin 1(1); Blackbird (1); Blackcap 2; Chiffchaff 4(1); Willow Warbler 1; House Sparrow 2(1). Totals; 11 birds ringed from 6 species and 6 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 17 birds processed from 9 species.

We were pleasantly surprised with the number of butterflies around: Peacock, Small White, Orange Tip, Brimstone and Speckled Wood were all in evidence in the field.

Claire and crew disappeared at just after 11:00. Miranda and I took a couple more birds out of the net as we closed them up at 12:00, took down and left site by 13:00.

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