Webb’s Wood: Wednesday, 8th February 2023

It was back to Webb’s Wood this morning, and back to the cold weather. It was touch and go when I arrived on site as to whether I would go ahead. The forecast was for it to start warming up from 7:00, so Miranda and I met at 7:15 and opened the nets at 8:00. Interestingly, it actually felt warmer than I expected, although the car’s thermometer was showing minus 5 degrees Celsius. We only set 4 x 18m, 1 x 6m and 1 x 9m net: the small nets around the feeders and the usual 3 x 18m line and a single 18m adjacent to the feeding station (the circle):

The fog that was supposed to be present until 11:00 (according to the Met Office yellow warning) had pretty much lifted by the time we got to site. Surprisingly, as the morning wore on, and the temperature started to rise, the nets actually iced up. We decided to call a halt at just gone 10:00. It was absurd: the sun was out but it felt colder than when we started. There was no sign of cold stress in any of the birds: just in the ringers!

The first surprise of the morning: ever since I started to do solo working I have used a portable clothes airer to hang the birds in bags on whilst they are waiting to be processed. We all used to make tripods from net poles or stick them into bales of straw or strap them horizontally to the ringing table, so that bags could be hung off them. After a few incidents, one involving the back hatch of the car, a couple involving unexpected gusts of wind, there have been repairs and gaffer tape used to hold it together. Imagine my surprise when Miranda produced a brand new one to give to me to use in future! The only thing my trainees have to provide is their time, no money exchanges hands (it will cost them enough once they become independent, and I would be doing this and spending the money anyway) so I was absolutely blown away. One other nice surprise this morning was catching our first Braydon Forest Redwing of the year:

Our last was on the 27th December in Red Lodge.

The catch was: Nuthatch (1); Blue Tit 6(2); Great Tit 3(3); Coal Tit 1(1); Wren (1); Dunnock 1; Robin 1(2); Redwing 1; Blackbird (1). Totals: 13 birds ringed from 6 species and 11 birds retrapped from 7 species, making 24 birds processed from 9 species.

The Dunnock was also an unusual catch for this site: only the eighth caught in 10 years.

We finished packing away by 10:30, but I didn’t get off site until 11:00 as, initially, I was goosed by an overly friendly Labrador, whilst I was pushing the poles into the back of the car. That got my attention. His owner, a very pleasant local gentleman, who is currently putting the neighbourhood plan together for the area, was very keen to talk about the bird life of Webb’s Wood and what Forestry England’s plans are for the wood. We had a good long chat and, hopefully, I will be able to help with his work.

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