Change Isn’t Always For The Better: Friday, 3rd June 2022

Somerford Common has always been my favourite woodland site. It has such a variety of habitats that we get a wide range of species over the course of the year. Being a Forestry England site it is obviously subject to change. I have previously mentioned the changes to my winter feeding area which, whilst severe, the new site of the feeding station turned out to be on a par with the previous site. Hard on the heels of that, as previously blogged, my summer ringing rides have been made unusable so, not wanting to miss out on the site totally this summer, I decided to try one of the other available rides. This area was where I first started ringing at Somerford Common. It is at the far end of the east most ride I use when working in the western section of Somerford Common. It had always caught quite well. However, that was 10 years ago. It has definitely changed!

Rosie did her usual: turned up and helped to set up, ringed a few birds, and then went on to other duties. Anna and Steph also joined us for the morning. We set nine 18m nets along the ride and sat back and waited. Unfortunately, the catch was very poor: just 15 birds in 5 hours is a very poor return for our efforts. The problem is a very simple one: the canopy is 10 years higher than it was when I first worked the site. There is also much less under-storey.

There were plenty of birds around but they were in the canopy. We had some excellent views of a large flock of Long-tailed Tits in the trees above our ringing station. They stayed up there for a while and then moved along. Similarly, we had excellent views of a Jay, that flew all along the net line without ever getting close to dropping in. All morning we were serenaded (or is that irritated?) by the repetitive, competitive singing of at least three male Song Thrushes. My bird of the morning was a female Cuckoo that flew east -west across the road, about 20′ in front of me. Lovely sighting.

The catch itself was: Blue Tit 1; Wren 3; Robin 3[2]; Blackbird 1[1]; Blackcap 2; Willow Warbler 2. Totals: 12 adult birds ringed from 6 species and 3 juveniles ringed from 2 species, making 15 birds processed from 6 species.

With the weather turning cloudy and windier, we gave it up as a bad job at 11:00 and took down and were away from site by 11:45. I will have to see where else I can find within the complex that might give a better return.

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