An interesting month in many ways, and disappointing in others. When over 80% of the catch is down to a single individual, Jonny Cooper, it is a little concerning. My team managed just four sessions with me, plus two by Ellie working solo (even if we could wave to each other across the expanse of Mallard Lake on the 19th of the month) and one ad hoc garden catch from Andy. To be fair, the weather was really difficult, and I was away enjoying the rain in Scotland for the last 10 days of the month. That said, although this was only third in our list of March catch sizes, it was actually our best March catch per session average, particularly in numbers ringed.
There was a significant reduction in the number of species encountered, down from 34 to 26. Missing this year were Brambling, Cetti’s Warbler; Collared Dove; Dipper; Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail; Kingfisher; Meadow Pipit; Redwing; Siskin; Woodpigeon and Yellowhammer. Added this year were Bullfinch; Linnet; Stock Dove and Willow Warbler. The Willow Warbler is particularly notable: it is our earliest ever capture of the species and was caught at Langford Lakes on the 30th.
In addition to these birds, our leg-tagged Curlew, FJ18913 has returned from its winter quarters at Porthcarro in Cornwall and was seen again at the Cotswold Water Park on the 7th and on the 20th in the fields adjacent to Red Lodge. Also, one of the colour-ringed Dipper project birds was reported from the Bybrook near Selwyn Hall, Box on the 9th.
I ran another sold out ringing demonstration for the Swindon Wildlife Group on the 11th. We had to move it from Ravensroost Wood, as the contractors were still working there finishing the 25 year coppice and some Ash dieback removal. Apparently, the reserves management team and the events team don’t communicate so, although the ringing demonstration was booked at the end of October last, on the website and published in the “What’s On” leaflet since last November, reserves management were unaware of the arrangement. With the mooted changes to the way the reserves are managed, removing all ground staff, replacing them with contractors (and what a great job they have done with the Firs (still inaccessible) and Ravensroost Wood this winter!), and purely relying on volunteers for other work and activities, it will be interesting to see what happens with the Wildlife Trust reserves in the future.
As mentioned, I had a wet week+ in Scotland, on the shores of Loch Long. We managed to get some decent birding in whilst there, including one of my favourite birds:
Three of us are heading to Portland Bill for the beginning of May and I am hoping that Anna and Rosie will get the opportunity to ring a Rock Pipit, Anthus petrosus, whilst we are there.