Despite the weather, we did manage to get a decent number of full sessions in this month. With 8 days of deep freeze followed by a solid week of wind and rain, it was amazing that we got as many sessions carried out as we did.
The key reduction this year was in the catch of Blue and Great Tits and Lesser Redpoll. How much of that is down to access to the Firs being denied whilst the landowner is having all of the Ash removed, because of Chalara dieback I don’t know. Although the Trust manage the site, they don’t own it and this was not their decision. I am sure it has certainly impacted on my team’s catch of the two Tit species. However, the Trust’s ban on supplementary feeding this winter, acting on the “precautionary principle” with regard to the current avian flu issues, will certainly have had an impact.
In contrast to those decreases there were significant increases in the numbers of Goldfinch and Robin and, on a lesser scale, but proportionately higher, Song Thrush. There are lots of other ups and downs, as you can see from the table.
Although we processed 33 species this December, as opposed to 28 last year, three of those species were as a result of my new project working with the Oak & Furrows Wildlife Rescue Centre. They contacted me and asked if I would ring birds prior to release. I have agreed to do so (indeed, I am happy to do so) for birds of prey and Corvids plus any real oddities that might turn up.
Compared to last year, missing from the catch this month were Bullfinch and Woodpigeon. Added to the catch this year, excluding the Barn Owl, Buzzards and Tawny Owl processed at Oak & Furrows, were Blackcap, Fieldfare, Green Woodpecker, Jay and Pied Wagtail. Of those, all bar one Blackcap and the Pied Wagtail came from an old orchard in the area around Erlestoke.