Blakehill Farm: Saturday, 20th August 2022

Well, what can I say, a ringing demonstration in which there were three times as many attendees as birds and only two more birds than the number of your team that turned up to help! It was really good. I had Ellie, Rosie, David and Anna arrive (at various times) to help with the set up and the take down and to do each of the net rounds, whilst I entertained the public and drank coffee!

There was always a risk with scheduling a ringing demonstration at Blakehill: it is so open and susceptible to the wind. On the other hand, there is a lot of early autumn migration at the moment and the possibility of a few decent birds is highest at that site. Unfortunately, although the wind was forecast to be quite low until 10:30, it got up pretty much from the start. The speeds that the forecast said would be the gusting speeds turned out to be the base speeds. The nets on the plateau bushes were most at risk, and were blowing out quite early on. However, they did catch five of the seven birds caught in the session before we had to shut them to ensure the safety of the birds.

Yes: seven birds! All new, so all needed ringing, and all juveniles. They were Wren 2; Tree Pipit 1; Blackcap 1; Whitethroat 2; Lesser Whitethroat 1. Why was it really good? Because of this bird:

Juvenile Tree Pipit, Anthus trivialis

This is only the second Tree Pipit ringed at Blakehill Farm, and Robin Griffiths, who carries out more coverage of wildlife on north Wiltshire Wildlife Trust sites than anyone else, including any Trust employees, was delighted to see his first ion any of those reserves.

Anna was also pleased: on her first session out for a number of weeks, due to the demands of her job, she got to ring her first ever Lesser Whitethroat! That was the bird of the morning as far as the attendees were concerned. It was a beautifully marked juvenile bird and everyone was wowed by it.

We closed the nets at 10:30, earlier than intended, but we weren’t getting any birds in the more protected hedgerow nets and the plateaus nets were just unusable. Everything was packed away and we cleared the site by 11:30: time for an early lunch!

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