Lower Moor Farm: Wednesday, 15th February 2023

The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust lifted their HPAI precautionary ban on bird ringing at their wetland sites, Langford Lakes and Lower Moor Farm, last week. With my options limited currently, because of forestry works at the Firs and Ravensroost Woods, I decided to make a foray to the site this morning. I don’t expect big catches there at this time of year, but we did have 35 caught in February 2021, 20 in February 2016. All others have been less than 15.

I met up with Miranda and Rosie at 7:00, and we set up the following nets:

Following on from Miranda generously replacing my bird bag hanger, Rosie turned up this morning with a replacement for my ringing table, which, after 10 years of service, is very much the worse for wear. I am very lucky to have such considerate trainees. (All right the rest of you: see me for my wish list!!)

It was as quiet as expected, but Rosie did get to ring a couple of birds before heading off to work at 9:00. It helped that she was working with a couple of Trust volunteers at Lower Moor Farm this morning. I was very pleased to catch our first Lesser Redpoll since the middle of November:

We also caught a second Redwing of the year. The catch was small, just 16 birds. There were small flocks flying around, but we were catching just the odd one of each. The list for the session was: Blue Tit (2); Great Tit 2; Long-tailed Tit 1; Wren (2); Dunnock 1(1); Robin 1(1); Redwing 1; Song Thrush 1; Goldcrest 2; Lesser Redpoll 1. 10 birds ringed from 8 species and 6 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 16 birds processed from 10 species.

Both Blue Tits were recaptures. One of them, ringed in 2021, was clearly having a problem with its right wing. The left wing was fine.

The tips of the greater coverts were ragged and tinged dull red, which looked like dried blood. Feather barbs were stuck to the shaft, again, by what looked like dried blood. There was no sign of feather mites or other invertebrate pests. The bird was in otherwise good condition: but slightly underweight for this time of year. It would be interesting to know what the issue was. Perhaps it had a close encounter with a predator? Or is it just a somewhat erratic moult of secondaries and associated coverts?

At 10:30 the wind got up unexpectedly and, after two empty rounds, Miranda and I decided to shut the nets and take down. We were off site by 11:15.

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