Brown’s Farm: Wednesday, 30th November 2022

It is eight months since I last managed a session at Brown’s Farm. Once I recovered from the spinal surgery and the subsequent rehabilitation, the weather has just not been conducive to running a ringing session there. Brown’s Farm is at the top of Postern Hill,. south of Marlborough, and is even more exposed to any wind than Blakehill Farm (and that is bad enough).

It is the only site that I have that is a beef and arable farm: the only site where I can regularly catch Yellowhammer and Linnet. I was joined this morning by Rosie and, for once, by using up some of her TOIL (time off in lieu), she could stay for nearly the entire session. I was hoping that we could catch some Linnets, as Rosie hasn’t had the pleasure of extracting or ringing them yet. We met in the farmyard at 7:00, leaving Rosie’s car there, as access to the ringing area requires a 4×4 with decent ride clearance – and there is no point in getting both cars filthy!

We set three lines of net, each comprising 3 x 18m nets. Two were set on the leeward side of the hedgerow, with the third more or less at right-angles:

The ringing station was set just adjacent to the net rides. Like yesterday, the weather was misty and dull, but not quite as damp. Unfortunately, like yesterday, there were few birds hitting the nets at first. Unlike yesterday, there were large flocks flying around: Redwing, Starling and Linnet in the main.

A Wren got up to one of their usual tricks: flying into a net as we were still setting it up. They can be awkward enough at the best of times. Fortunately, I got to it before it had managed to bundle up lots of net, spin, crawl through into another pocket and extracted it without issue. We finished setting up just before 8:00. The first round, at 8:15, produced two Yellowhammer and a male Bullfinch out of the hedgerow nets. These were the only birds that came from those nets until we caught another three at 11:00.

The second round produced five birds, including two Blue Tits. I have always thought of Blue Tits as woodland and garden birds, but they are regularly caught here and also at Blakehill. At Blakehill they are not just found in the hedgerows but regularly out on the plateau.

After that round things fell off, with just four birds in the next two hours. We decided that, if the 11:00 round was as bad, we would cut our losses and shut the nets. Naturally, it then produced ten birds: a flock of House Sparrows hit the nets. Most bounced off, but six of them stuck. All were male. As previously mentioned, another three Yellowhammer came out of the hedgerow nets. Like the House Sparrows, all male.

The following round produced two Starling: which gave Rosie her first extraction and ringing record for that species.

That was Rosie’s last contribution to the session, as she had to head off to work. As luck would have it, having dropped Rosie back at her car and headed back to the ringing site, the next bird I took out of the net was a Linnet!

A couple more Blue Tits and a Wren finished the session and I took down and left site at just after 13:30.

The list for the session was: Blue Tit 8; Wren 2; Dunnock 2(2); Robin (2); Chaffinch 1; Linnet 1; Bullfinch 1; House Sparrow 9; Starling 2; Yellowhammer 5. Totals: 31 birds ringed from 9 species and 4 birds retrapped from 2 species, making a total of 35 birds processed from 10 species.

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