Ravensroost Meadows: Wednesday, 18th May 2022

Funny how, after a session that went so well, life can bring you back down to earth with a massive bump! Meeting at 5:00, Rosie, Miranda and I set up our nets, had them open by 6:00 and started catching straight away.

All of the nets are 5-shelf Ecotones with the exception of the 18m 3-shelf. That started out as an Ecotone 5-shelf until it was remodelled by a couple of Roe Deer, whilst erected within Ravensroost Wood, and I had to revise it to make it useable. It was either that or throw away a net that cost over £100!

We started out with a female Reed Bunting coming in as we were opening the nets. The next round started out with my teams first Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat of the year. These were followed by another two of each as the morning progressed.

Rosie, as ever, had to leave at 8:30 to start work at Lower Moor Farm. At least with the early morning starts, she is getting the opportunity to ring some birds before leaving the site. Miranda and I had a quiet morning, with a couple of birds during each round and we ended up with a total of 28. What was totally enjoyable about the catch was the summer migrant variety: as well as Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat we had Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Not caught was a Cuckoo that was calling from the edge of the woodland and several Swallow that appeared once the weather warmed and the insects started moving around.

The list for the day was: Blue Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit 3; Wren 1(1); Robin (1); Blackbird 3(1); Blackcap 3; Garden Warbler 2(1); Whitethroat 3; Lesser Whitethroat 1(2); Chiffchaff 2; Willow Warbler 1(1); Reed Bunting 1. Totals: 20 birds ringed from 10 species and 8 birds retrapped from 7 species, making 28 birds processed from 12 species.

The most interesting of our recaptures was a Garden Warbler, caught and ringed as an adult in Ravensroost Wood in July 2017. Given that these birds overwinter in the Congo, this bird has made the trip at least 5 times: 21,730+ miles. It is no wonder that the usual lifespan is a mere 2 years, astonishing that the oldest known is over 10 years from date of ringing.

The wind started to get up at 11:00, so Miranda and I started a slowish close down, extracting the few birds that flew in as we were closing the nets. Everything was packed away and ready to leave by 12:30 only, having waved “cheerio” to Miranda, the clutch pedal on my car decided to repeat its trick of a week ago, and fall flat to the floor. I called out my friendly mobile mechanic who, fortunately, was just finishing a job in Cricklade, and came straight over. I met him at the main gate to Ravens Retreat, as he had never been there before. Whilst waiting I noticed this caterpillar on the latch of the field gate:

Lackey Moth, Malacosma neustria, caterpillar

When Alan, the mechanic, arrived, and we went back to the car, I noticed this sitting on the driver side front wheel:

Eyed Hawkmoth, Smerinthus ocellata

After Alan bled the clutch, so I could actually change gear, I eventually got away from site at just before 14:00 and the car got me home. It looks like I am going to have to check the clutch fluid levels every time I need to use the car: either that or get the gear box checked out.

An update: I have had feedback from the Ravensroost Reserve warden, who regularly monitors moths in the complex, and this is the first record of an Eyed Hawkmoth at the site. That’s nice to know.

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