Webb’s Wood: Saturday, 15th April 2023

I had hoped to be at Blakehill Farm this morning to have a look for some Spring migrants. Unfortunately, the forecast changed yesterday so that, although it would remain dry, it would be too breezy for us to risk spending several hours extracting nets from the perimeter track hedgerow. So I moved the session to Webb’s Wood. I was joined by David for the morning session, with Laura and family joining us later on.

David and I met at 6:00 and erected the nets. I have never seen the site so wet: every ride was, basically, a quagmire, except the one along the main track.

We had the nets open quite quickly and started catching almost straight away, with the first bird, a Chiffchaff, out of the net at 7:00.

It was never busy, and it was cold. There was a light breeze, which added to the cold feel. The sun appeared on a fairly regular basis, and in the sun it was warm, but it was never out for long enough to warm up the ambient temperature until, as per usual, we had started to pack away. I put on a variety of lures for migratory warblers: Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat. The first three of the four worked.

The catch was light but it was pretty decent: by which I mean, we didn’t have to handle a single Blue Tit in the entire session. Following on from the initial Chiffchaff, we caught two recaptured Wrens, 20 minutes apart, and from then on the catch trickled through with just one or two birds over the course of 11 catching rounds, with a complete blank during three rounds between 9:00 and 10:00 (except for a few same day recaptures that we simply re-released) but we persevered and were rewarded with two Treecreepers, one each in consecutive net rounds.

The lures did their job and we caught Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler close to each lure. Every net ride caught something. The Blackcap was originally ringed at Webb’s Wood on the 24th April last year.

Highlights were definitely a couple of Willow Warblers and a couple of Treecreepers. We also caught a pair of Long-tailed Tits, and I do mean a pair. It was a male and a female taken out close together in the same net, in the 3 x 18m west-east ride. Not only that, after release, at the next round they were caught again in the 3 x 18m north-south ride. The female caught on the way in, the male caught on the opposite side of the net, just above her, when it returned to find its mate (or, at least, that is my interpretation).

The list for the session was: Treecreeper 2; Great Tit (1); Coal Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 2; Wren (2); Blackcap (1); Chiffchaff 5(2); Willow Warbler 2. Totals: 12 birds ringed from 5 species and 6 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 18 birds processed from 8 species.

At 11:00 we started to take down. As ever, Laura and her family mucked in to help, David’s dad, Trevor arrived and did his bit, and we were all packed away and off site just before midday after a pleasant, if cold, not too busy, but nicely varied session.

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