West Wilts Ringing Group Results: June 2022

Another little record for us this month – improving on last year’s catch which was, at that point, our best June result since the great schism in January 2013.  It could have been a lot more but Jonny spent a week in Iceland in the middle of the month, Alice has been busy  carrying out fieldwork for her PhD and, due to my recurring crippling illness episodes, I had to cancel four sessions this month. I had an MRI scan this morning so, hopefully, after 5 months they might be able to diagnose what the problem is and come up with an appropriate therapy, rather than just bouncing me around more and more addictive / strong painkillers (the morphine is my favourite so far).  One downside of my condition is that, for the first time, I missed a CES session outside of the Covid restricted 2020.

The thing that stands out most to me is that we caught 44 different species this month.  Normally we wouldn’t get near that except during autumn migration.  Jonny got his hands on some more Canada Geese, and we had Sparrowhawk, Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit, Kingfisher and Siskin in addition to last year but were down one Water Rail, making a nett 5 species difference.

The main difference between this year and last is the improvement in the catch of our resident Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits and Robins.  Apart from Blackcaps, which showed a strong improvement on last year, all other summer visiting warbler species numbers were down on last year.

One major knockback this month was the loss of a brood of Barn Owls. Our most consistent, most dilapidated box in the condemned barn in Avis Meadows which has produced young every year. When checked at the end of May we found two naked chicks and two eggs, one of which was in the process of hatching, they were clearly not ready for ringing, so we left them alone. We went to check the box three weeks later, hoping to ring four chicks, only to find the box completely empty. I have no idea what predator would have carried that out. There were no obvious signs to indicate whether avian or mammalian. Despite that, we did manage to ring 14 Barn Owl chicks and one adult Barn Owl this month, we also ringed ten juvenile Swallows and one juvenile House Sparrow, all of which have subsequently fledged successfully.

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