I needed a change from ringing inside a woodland, so this morning, taking advantage of a forecast for low windspeeds, I headed to Blakehill Farm. Rosie and Miranda joined me for the morning. Perhaps I should have checked my records: it is always quiet there in March!
To be honest, I had thought of going over early and setting nets for Snipe on the ponds but, as looking out the window the car was rimed with ice and I thought better of it.
We set the following nets:
We have had some large catches at this site: just last October we had our best ever catch, with 84 individuals from 14 species, only 3 individuals from 2 species that could be considered winter visitors: the rest were residents. That said, the previous fives sessions held here in March of various years has averaged fewer than 15 birds per session. Unfortunately this morning’s session fitted into the lower end of that pattern. Rosie got to process three birds before heading of to work at 8:40.
The 2 x 18m ride delivered 2 birds, the 2 x 18m + 9m didn’t catch a thing, except the breeze that got up at take down, and the T-bone delivered 4 birds, as did the 6m net.
The list for the day was: Blue Tit (1); Dunnock (3); Robin 1; Blackbird 1; Goldfinch 2; Bullfinch 2. Totals: 6 birds ringed from 4 species and 4 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 10 birds processed from 6 species.
I am never going to complain at catching a pair of Bullfinch, and I mean a pair, not two. They were a male and female in the 6m net, less than 1m apart. The female had just started developing a brood patch and the male’s cloacal protuberance was already pronounced. According to BTO nest records, the earliest egg laying date is 29th April, so this really is an early development. Both were birds that fledged last year. Once processed and released they did actually fly off together.
The other two birds in the 6m net were the two Goldfinch. So this small net was the best of the morning.
We caught these birds between 8:00 and 9:45 and then nothing. Not only that, but the breeze started to get up and, coming from the east, it was very cold. At 10:30 Miranda and I decided that things were not going to improve and so we shut the nets and took down. We were off site just after 11:30.