The First Winter Visitors: Somerford Common, Sunday, 16th October 2022

Not our biggest catch but an interesting one. The key reason it wasn’t a big catch was the complete absence of Blue Tits this morning. They can usually be relied upon to bulk out the catch. That is very unusual for this site: prior to today, out of 83 visits to the site Blue Tits have been caught on 78 occasions.

I was joined for the session by David, Rosie and Anna. Unusually, Rosie was able to stay for the whole session and Anna had to leave at 9:30 to carry out a Dormouse survey with the Wiltshire Mammal Group. Actually, that survey was also at Somerford Common, led by Claire Neal from the group, and also joined by my midweek helper, Miranda. Later in the morning, about 8:00, we were joined by Zara and Samuel, plus Mum and Dad, and Samuel’s friend, Adam, and his Dad. That is three children who know how to safely handle wild birds and Zara continued her ringing career, ringing a couple of Robins. It would have been three but in taking one out of the bird bag, I managed to let it escape! We took over the main car park, and set up the ringing station amongst the cars as well.

We set up along the ride from the main car park (for the first time in) ages:

On the way back from having set the nets, we took the first bird out of a net: a Robin, from the net nearest the ringing station. The first bird is usually one of Robin, Wren or Blackbird. Given the potentially fluid situation, with birds migrating in and out, I put on a fairly eclectic mix of lures: Redwing, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin for species coming in, Blackcap for species currently going out. Two of the four worked.

The second round produced eight birds from seven species: the double being a couple of Long-tailed Tits. Our third round produced another eight birds, this time from four species: three of which were Bullfinches, making four for the morning. But then came the third round: only five birds, but three Lesser Redpoll in the first net set (it should have been four, but one took advantage of a slight stretch of the net, as it was pulled down, to enable the top two to be extracted, to extract itself):

We then caught a Song Thrush in the single 18m net and a Redwing alongside the lure in the final net set:

After that the catch pretty well died off, with singles in three of the next four rounds so, at 11:00, we decided to shut the nets and take down. By then, Rosie had needed to leave, and the two families had also taken off, so it was down to David and me to clear up the site.

The list for the day was: Treecreeper [1]; Great Tit [2](2); Coal Tit [1]; Long-tailed Tit 2; Wren [1]; Robin 1[4](1); Song Thrush [1]; Redwing 1; Blackbird [1]; Goldcrest [4]; Lesser Redpoll [3]; Bullfinch 2[2]. Totals: 6 adults / full-grown ringed from 4 species, 20 juveniles ringed from 10 species and 3 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 29 birds processed from 12 species.

So, not huge numbers but good variety, considering we were missing four of the usual woodland species for this site: Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. I will be using this location for the test winter constant effort site being pushed by the BTO: but it will be back in the paddock area where I set the feeding station last year.

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