Blown Away at Blakehill: Wednesday, 2nd November 2022

I had intended to get to Blakehill Farm on Monday but, after trudging around all morning in Wellies on Sunday, my arthritic right ankle decided I wasn’t going anywhere. So, I rescheduled the session for this morning. I knew it was touch and go: the forecast was for it to be dry until after lunch, but for it to be breezy, and with it gusting to 30+mph. The wind was scheduled to come from the south-west, which meant that it would have to pass through the perimeter track hedgerow to get to the nets. I hoped that the hedges would act as a bit of a windbreak and we would be able to get something of a session. I was joined for the morning by Miranda. We met at 6:30 and had the nets open by about 7:15. As we moved up the perimeter track there must have been 100 Redwing put up by our approach.

It is hard work putting nets up there: although the edges of the perimeter track look grassy, and supports a surprising amount of vegetation, just below the surface is hard standing that has not yet degraded. Knocking holes in it, to insert the supporting poles, is hard graft: so I had a good early morning work out.

I set lures for Redwing, Reed Bunting, Brambling and Linnet. Almost immediately we had four Redwing hit the nets adjacent to the lure: one managed to wriggle free before we could get to it. Later we caught another but, unfortunately, by 8:30 the nets were billowing and the pockets were just blown out. There was also the double whammy of the sun shining on the nets. The combination of wind and sunshine made the nets highly visible. After 8:45 we caught just two more birds: one at 9:15 and then nothing until the last at 10:15. The wind was becoming much stronger, so we shut the nets then.

It wasn’t a bad morning, in that we did catch some birds, and it bodes well for the next calm day, as there was a lot of movement around the site. Flocks of Redwing, Fieldfare, Starling and Goldfinch, plus plenty of other birds in the hedgerow. Unfortunately, we saw a lot of those birds fly out of the hedge, see the net, and fly back straight back into the hedge.

The list for the morning was: Wren 1; Robin 2; Redwing 5; Blackbird 2; Reed Bunting 3. Total: 13 birds ringed and processed from 5 species.

By the time we had taken down and packed away we left the site just before 11:00. I am sure we will do better next time.

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