CES 7: Lower Moor Farm, Wednesday, 6th July 2022

Before getting into the meat of today’s session, just a couple of small updates.

Ravensroost Wood: Monday, 4th July 2022: my plan for the wood this year is to do sessions in different parts of the wood, as I now have more access to other sections of the wood now. This Monday, Rosie and I set 5 x 18 m nets along ride 30. I used to set nets along this ride regularly and the catch was always decent. However, things change over time and after three birds in three hours I knew that horse was well and truly dead and any additional flogging would be a waste of time.

I arranged with Alice to meet up Tuesday afternoon to put up a delayed Barn Owl box. It is a new one in a completely new position on Lower Pavenhill Farm. I had also agreed to put up a Little Owl box built by the owner of Somerford Common, and we planned to do that as well. I had also hoped to check a couple of Barn Owl boxes but the famer contacted me to let me know that he had just moved livestock into the areas where the boxes are, so could I hold off for a few days. Alice was still happy to make the trip done from Oxford to help with the boxes. We got the boxes up. For the Barn Owl box we were accompanied by a significant number of horses. Not a problem, except for the wanting to bump into the ladders and lick the car to death. I now have some very nice slobber patterns on the windows and bodywork. In comparison to the Belted Galloways I would say the horses are better: the Belties also like to give your car a good rubbing with their hairy coats and are not particularly careful about where they poo. As a potential reward for her help, I remembered that one of the Barn Owl boxes we had checked a few weeks ago, whilst having one failed brood of Stock Doves, had actually a warm egg in the nest, so we went to check on that to see if the bird had hatched and was of a size whereby it could be ringed:

Stock Dove pullus, Columba oenas, photo by Alice Edney

This is Alice’s first Stock Dove pullus. It had just started to grow its flight feathers and was quickly returned to the sanctity of its box.

So to this morning and CES session 7. I was joined by Rosie and Miranda for the session and, although the catch wasn’t as big as last weeks, it did follow a similar pattern with a few birds at the start and end of the session, with one big fall in the middle making up the bulk of the birds. It compared very favourably with the equivalent session last year, when a mere 16 birds were caught from 12 species. Rosie did her usual of helping set up and ringing a few birds before heading off to do a day’s work for the Trust.

What we are definitely seeing this year is that Blue Tits and Great Tits have had a decent breeding season. However, the highlights for me were threefold: the first juvenile Garden Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler of the year plus a retrapped female Green Woodpecker, ringed as an adult last year. She was caught in the wildlife refuge area: the ant hills we trip over whilst putting up the nets are clearly what attracts her in. Hopefully we will catch her youngsters later in the summer.

Garden Warblers are one of my favourite birds: they look so ordinary, with no flashy distinguishing markings, but I just think they look wonderfully understated, classy:

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juvenile Garden Warbler, Sylvia borin

The first Cetti’s Warbler ever ringed at Lower Moor Farm was in July 2018. I checked with the previous ringer when we caught it and he had never heard them at the site, let alone caught one. Since then we had ringed 7 adults and 14 juveniles, so they are a consistent presence on the site now. This was our first juvenile of the year. It played a bit hard to get on the photograph, continually closing its eye so it didn’t have to look at me but, by repeated shooting, I managed to get one decent shot for the blog. It was only a couple of minutes before it was released and flew off strongly into the hedgerows:

juvenile Cetti’s Warbler, Cettia cetti

The list for the day was: Green Woodpecker (1); Treecreeper [2](1); Blue Tit [11](1); Great Tit [5](1); Long-tailed Tit [3]; Wren 1[2]; Robin [2](1); Blackbird [1](1); Cetti’s Warbler [1]; Blackcap [2]; Garden Warbler [1]; Chiffchaff [3](2); Willow Warbler [3]; Bullfinch 1(1). Totals: 2 adults ringed from 2 species, 36 juveniles ringed from 12 species and 9 birds retrapped from 8 species, making 47 birds processed from 14 species.

All in all, a very satisfactory morning’s ringing but, also, a very pleasant morning’s birding: Great White Egret; multiple Kingfishers buzzing around the site and, perhaps oddest of all, what I am sure was a Common Sandpiper that perched on a branch in full view on the island just in front of the Lower Moor Farm farmhouse. Visible through my binoculars but, for once, I wished that I had packed my scope!

Although the forecast for the day was for it to be clear and sunny, it was warm with quite a lot of cloud cover. It was fine for ringing but it was very sweaty when packing away at the end of the session. With the birdlife having dropped off at about 10:45, we started packing away at 11:30 and left site soon after.

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