Ravensroost Meadows: Thursday, 18th May 2023

This morning’s session was the first that I have done in the Meadow Pond area this year and is exactly one year to the day since the first session there in 2022. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case this Spring, the catch was not as good as last year’s. However, it was much better than the same time in 2021.

I took my strimmer, and got there early (as if 5:00 isn’t “early”) in case I needed to do a bit of ride clearance. However, when I turned up I found that the Trust have done a great job of improving the site. It was becoming overgrown with bramble bushes, closing off rides and encroaching into any open spaces as this picture shows:

The white shapes outline the overgrown areas of the site. They have been cut back to open up space, whilst leaving areas thick enough to provide plenty of nesting cover, except for area 4, which was always thin and not a nesting area but simply blocked the ride. Also, one thing that I had suggested that I would do previously, but I never got around to it, was to put a ride through the middle of the large patch of bramble, area 3 which, as well as thinning it significantly, the Trust have also provided the requested ride. I set my nets where I would usually do, plus one through my nice new ride:

With all of the changes I will have to rethink my net ride positions, as they are no longer optimal. That isn’t an excuse for a smaller than hoped for catch. Although the catch was down on the same day last year, it is quite variable in May, up and down on alternate years.

I was joined by Miranda and her son Elliot for the morning, so had lots of help setting up and taking down. Whilst we were setting up, Miranda opined that in the area of the new ride there was a Garden Warbler singing. She said that she had been learning their song so she could clearly differentiate it from Blackcap. So it was rather nice that, when we did the first round, the first bird we took out of that net was a Garden Warbler. We were rather lulled into a false sense of security when the first round delivered three birds and the second six: four of which came from the nice new ride through the bramble.

Unfortunately, things then died a death and we took one or two birds out every other round for the rest of the morning. We had plenty of time to chat!

The list for the morning was: Blue Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit 1; Dunnock 2; Robin 1; Blackbird 2(1); Garden Warbler 1; Whitethroat 2(2); Chiffchaff 2; Willow Warbler 2; Reed Bunting 1. Totals: 14 birds ringed from 9 species and 4 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 18 birds processed from 10 species.

There were two surprises: the complete absence of both Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat, and goes a long way to explaining the reduced catch size.. Even if just passing through I have always caught them in May at this site. The number of Whitethroat were on a par with previous months. One of them, ADY0068, was ringed at this site on exactly this date last year!

We closed the nets at 11:15, took down and were away from the site by midday. It was fun regardless of the lack of birds.

%d bloggers like this: