West Wilts Ringing Group Results: January 2023

This was a very difficult month: the impact of the freezing weather, followed by high winds and torrential rain, for two of the weeks restricted activity levels for the group, and reduced the actual catches. In fact, only Jonny and my team carried out any ringing at all. I managed only five of ten scheduled sessions. Other factors involved are: the unavailability of one of my key over-winter sites, the Firs: out of bounds since October, and will not be open again until March, due to extensive forestry work. Ravensroost Wood has been awful all year and, with the Wildlife Trust banning feeding stations, as a precaution against HPAI, it continues to be awful. That is now also undergoing some forestry work, timber removal, and will be out of bounds until at least mid-February (but I suspect it will be the whole month). Lower Moor Farm has been out of bounds all winter, as a precaution against HPAI. Fortunately, there has been no evidence of it there and the restriction was lifted yesterday.

The fact is that January 2022 was exceptional: January 2023 was similar to 2019 and 2020, and three times the level of 2021.

It is pretty clear from the table what the differences are. The number and variety of species is well down. Just look at the Lesser Redpoll: 25 last year, split between Somerford Common, Webb’s Wood and Lower Moor Farm. This year, just one at one of Jonny’s Sutton Benger sites. In fact, the Redwing number from this year doesn’t include a single bird from the Braydon Forest sites, all are from Jonny’s sites around Sutton Benger, East Tytherton, Melksham and Hilmarton.

The rest of the details you can see for yourselves.

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