Still No Finches: Somerford Common, Saturday, 11th February 2023

After the last session at Somerford Common, as I blogged at the time, I moved the feeding station back to its pre-mulching position. Soon after, I replaced the 2 litre seed feeder with a 6 litre feeder, so I could move the 2 litre feeder to the other side of Somerford Common, to set up the new feeding station used at last Saturday’s session. I topped up all of the feeders on Tuesday and went back to top up at Somerford on Friday. Both the peanut and seed feeders had been emptied in 3 days, that is 6 litres of seed and 1.5 litres of peanuts eaten in three days! Are they trying to bankrupt me? Basically, I knew that today’s session would be busy, and was going to be titmouse heavy again.

When I went out on Friday I also took my secateurs, some branch loppers and a vegetation slasher, to re-establish the net rides. Amazingly, given that they have bright yellow handles, I managed to lose the secateurs. Despite searching for a good twenty minutes, I couldn’t find them and went home in a huff!

The morning started disastrously: having arranged to meet Anna at 7:15, I arrived on site on time, started to get the equipment out and realised that I had left the guy ropes at home. I quickly texted Anna telling her not to panic if I wasn’t there and that I would be back to site just after 7:30 (the joys of having most of your sites just 10 minutes from home, or 6 minutes as it was yesterday). When I got back Anna wasn’t there. Of course, O2 had lived down to its usual standard and the message hadn’t sent. Fortunately, she was running late herself, having had to stop and put some fuel in her car. Better late than never, we started setting the nets. Firstly, the 18m & 9m on the main track. I put on a Redwing lure, hoping that the one at Webb’s Wood on Wednesday wasn’t a one-off stray (it was). We opened them and went to set up the feeding station nets. As we were doing so, Adam, Daniel and dad Mark arrived. They helped me set the rest of the nets, whilst I sent Anna to check on the opened nets. I tasked Adam with finding my secateurs. Thank goodness for young eyes! I have them back.

The net setup was:

Even before we got the nets open the birds (Blue and Great Tits) started to get caught. Meanwhile, Anna was removing a flock of Long-tailed Tits from the other nets. I managed to get the half-a-dozen birds out of the unopened nets without mishap, and went to help Anna finish off the other extractions. Whilst we were extracting, Claire arrived with Zara and Samuel and between the lot of them, they set up the ringing station for us. Claire then scribed for me for most of the rest of the session, which was extremely helpful. Laura came along a bit later and took over scribing duties after Claire & co had left. Essentially, we extracted and ringed for 2.5 hours.

Unfortunately, still no sign of any Lesser Redpoll and Siskin but, equally, it has been a regular site for Goldfinch, again missing, nor Chaffinch, the only finch species we have been catching this year.

The list for the sessions was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Nuthatch (1); Blue Tit 12(9); Great Tit 8(15); Coal Tit 3(3); Marsh Tit (2); Long-tailed Tit 12; Dunnock 1; Robin 1(3); Blackbird 1; Goldcrest (1). Totals: 38 birds ringed from 7 species and 35 birds retrapped from 8 species, making 75 birds processed from 11 species.

The first few rounds were busy but, as we entered the second hour the numbers fell off a bit and all four children had the opportunity to process a couple of birds each, as well as doing the releasing duties. With many hands making light work, packing away took very little time and we were away from site before midday. It would be nice to be catching finches, but it is a reasonable variety for a woodland at this time of year. We might have added a few more Goldcrest, but I didn’t run a lure for them this morning: I don’t know why but, having started off so incompetently, I shall just put it down to that!

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