It has been six weeks since my last visit to Red Lodge. Every time I planned to go something got in the way. This week I planned to go on Wednesday, but there was a Met Office yellow warning for wind and rain and, indeed, it was blowing a gale for most of the day, and there was some torrential rain on and off throughout. I had thought about going Tuesday, as that was a pretty decent day weather-wise, only my car decided to play up: the starting fob battery drained. and the car failed to actually switch off the electrics. By 19:00 Monday night the battery was drained. Fortunately, having sorted all of that out, I managed to get out this morning.
I was joined by Rosie to help set up and do some ringing before heading off to work. As she was going to be doing tree surveying in Ravensroost Woods, about 5 minutes away, she managed to get considerably more ringing in than is usually the case. Miranda came for the morning session, although she had to leave before the end. Once I got my car going on Tuesday I went to Red Lodge and set up a couple of small feeding stations in the Forestry England test plot area. This meant that we could set up a minimum number of nets. We set just four:
We had the nets open just before 8:00 and the birds started arriving straight away. As expected, Blue Tit made up a sizeable proportion of the catch, 40%, but we also had a decent variety for the morning. Our first round produced 22 birds. It included two Chaffinch, but one was showing signs of possible Fringilla papillomavirus, so we released it unringed. We also had a Nuthatch and a juvenile Marsh Tit, one of two we caught and colour-ringed this morning.
Juvenile Marsh Tit, Poecile palustris, with attitude!
Nuthatch has been a source of frustration this year: prior to today our Braydon Forest catches have yielded just eight. They have been heard all over the Forest, but have not found their way into the nets. In fact, this was the first we have ringed or recaptured since June – and the last one was also in Red Lodge. That we later caught another was a bonus.
All bar three of the Blue Tits were caught between 8:00 and 10:30, with two more at 11:00 and the final one, the last bird out of the nets, at midday. We caught regularly until Miranda had to leave at 11:20. The last bird that she processed was our solitary Redwing of the morning.
As is often the case at Red Lodge, when I decided that I would empty the nets and take them down, I caught another bunch of birds: five Long-tailed Tit and three Goldcrest being the highlights. The Goldcrest were a nice surprise as I did not lure for them: it was (finally) a cold morning, with a cold north easterly breeze, so it never warmed up enough for me to want to lure them.
The list for the day was: Nuthatch 2; Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 19(7); Great Tit 4(3); Coal Tit 4(4); Marsh Tit 2; Long-tailed Tit 5; Dunnock 2; Robin 2; Redwing 1; Goldcrest 3; Chaffinch 1. Totals: 46 birds ringed from 12 species and 14 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 60 birds processed from 12 species.
One of the benefits of setting only a few nets is that it doesn’t take long to get packed away, and I was away from site by 12:45.