Ravensroost Wood: Saturday, 20th May 2023

I remember the days when I used to catch 30, 40 or even 50 birds in a session. These days I would be grateful to catch 20! Since stopping feeding the sites at the end of March I have carried out 13 sessions across my sites, of which only three have delivered more than 20 birds.

Today I headed to Ravensroost Wood for the first time since mid-April. It was more successful than that previous session, as that only delivered seven birds: but that was a session badly affected by wind, and we closed it after just a couple of hours to protect the birds.

This morning David and I met up there at 5:30, and we set nine nets along rides R28 and R38.

The entire southern end of the wood is coppiced on an 8 year cycle: a quarter coppiced every 2 years. This winter it was the turn of the section identified on the diagram. That ride 38 has always been our best catching area, so it is not surprising that it did not deliver massively this session.

We were joined at 6:30 by Teresa and Andy and then at 7:30, Laura and Adam.

The first couple of rounds flattered to deceive, just like Thursday’s session at the Ravensroost Meadow Pond. We had 14 birds in the first hour – and just four more until I called a halt at 10:00, with nothing caught between 9:00 and 10:00. To be fair to the site, the breeze did get up at 8:30, making the nets along R38 billow and stand out more than one would like. At the same time, the sun came out and added to making the nets more visible. It did not affect the nets in R28 as they were nicely enclosed by the vegetation.

The list for the morning was: Blue Tit (1); Great Tit 1; Marsh Tit 1; Wren (2); Song Thrush 2; Blackbird 1(1); Blackcap 6(1); Willow Warbler 1(1). Totals: 12 birds ringed from 6 species and 6 birds retrapped from 5 species, making 18 birds processed from 8 species.

There were highlights: the Blackcaps missing from the Meadow Pond were found in the Wood; the first Marsh Tit of the year for the wood (much missed at this site last year, with just three ringed in 2022) and a returning Willow Warbler were all good finds.

It isn’t often that I get home in time for elevenses, but I was today! However, before I left I did have an opportunistic meeting with the owners of Distillery Farm, who have just put up their first Barn Owl box, and have agreed for me to monitor it for them in the future under my schedule 1 licence.

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