Webb’s Wood: Saturday, 4th March 2023

Third time lucky: originally we scheduled to do this on Wednesday, but it rained, then we rescheduled for Friday, but a short visit to A&E at 3:00 in the morning put paid to that, so we finally managed to get there this morning. I was joined by David and later in the morning the two families joined us again for the session.

We set a couple of extra nets up today, in the hope of enhancing the catch:

It was a decent catch, Blue and Great Tit heavy, as expected. The birds arrived regularly, never too many to make it too stressful for either the birds or the pair of us doing the extracting. Naturally, when I declared at 11:15 that we would shut the nets as we emptied them during the next round it triggered a larger catch in that round than we had in the rest of the morning. Unfortunately, three of those were same day retraps and we just had to let them go.

One of the benefits of not having a busy catch was that I could spend some time with young Adam, who was able to expand his ringing experience, adding another three to his list.

There were a number of highlights. With the exception of the landmark year of 2017, when we caught and ringed 10 Marsh Tits in Webb’s, we rarely ring more than two per annum in this wood, with four in 2022 being the only other year that has happened. This morning we caught our first for this year: equal earliest, with 2013, that we have ringed one in this wood.

Other highlights were finch based (at last). Chaffinch is another species that we rarely catch in this wood: just 33 ringed in the 10 years I have worked in Webb’s. This morning we caught another four. Unfortunately, one of them was showing possible signs of Fringilla papillomavirus: a pale dusting over the front of the leg. I couldn’t be sure but we erred on the side of caution. I know some ringers have stopped ringing Chaffinch on a “just in case” basis but, whilst I understand that position, I see it slightly differently. If it is FPV or a mite infection the result for the bird will be the same: eventually it will lose the affected limb or limbs. Putting a ring on it will not change that situation, but might give an opportunity to monitor the progress of the disease and provide some information on how it develops.

The last bird out of the net was a Lesser Redpoll. After the astonishing catch of the species in Webb’s in December 2021 (26 individuals), the numbers have slumped back to pre-2021 levels, so catching one in March for only the third time since records began is pleasing.

The catch for the day was: Blue Tit 16(3); Great Tit 7(6); Coal Tit 1(4); Marsh Tit 1(1); Dunnock 1; Robin (2); Chaffinch 3; Lesser Redpoll 1. Totals: 30 birds ringed from 5 species and 16 birds retrapped from 5 species, making 46 birds processed from 8 species.

With the last birds processed just before midday, we packed away and left site by 12:30 (the benefits of having David’s dad Trevor, Mark and his son Adam all mucking in to help get things packed away).

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