Yesterday’s session at Blakehill Farm was hastily scheduled because the forecast for today and the rest of the week was quite a lot of rain. However, as I got home to an email from Rachel at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust asking if she could bring her group along to my planned ringing session, I thought I had better think again. This also reminded me that another group had also asked if they could drop in on our activity. I checked the forecast, found it had improved, and contacted Ellie to see if she was available to help. Fortunately, she was. I cannot do two very early mornings in a row, so we started at 6:30. However, we were very aware that the rain was scheduled to arrive at 11:00.
Lower Moor Farm is a very public site, but it does have a wildlife refuge area to which the general public do not have access. It was in this area that we set up our nets: far from the madding crowd.
The catch was not busy, but a significant improvement on yesterday. Our highlight of the morning was our first catch of Garden Warbler this year. One was a recapture of an adult ringed at Lower Moor Farm in May of last year, plus two new individuals. These are the earliest Garden Warblers caught here, or at any of my sites, by a couple of weeks.
The catch for the day was: Long-tailed Tit 1; Robin 1; Song Thrush 1; Blackbird (1); Blackcap 5(1); Garden Warbler 2(1); Chiffchaff 3(1); Willow Warbler 1; Reed Bunting 1. Totals: 15 birds ringed from 8 species; 3 birds recaptured from 3 species, making 18 birds processed from 9 species.
At 9:00 we were joined by Ian, one of the Trust’s army of volunteers, and then at 9:15 we Rachel and her group from the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy arrived. About 20 minutes after they left, we were joined by Christine and her group from the Devizes School. Each group stayed with us for about half-an-hour, during which time I explained the ringing scheme to them. They were shown how we ring the birds, the biometrics that we take, and ageing and sexing of species. As ever, you can guarantee that explaining about “cloacal protuberances” will guarantee sniggers from a group of young teenagers. One point, I might have made it before, the children involved all have either challenging behaviour issues or learning difficulties. It would be really nice if, just occasionally, the “run-of-the-mill” pupils could get the opportunity to become involved. I will always be happy to explain what we do to these groups, it would just be good to expand the audience.
At about 10:15, after the second group had left, we decided to take down. The birds had stopped moving, and we were mindful of the weather forecast. For once, the forecast was spot on and our timing was perfect: we had finished packing away, and I had just driven away from the ringing site, when the heavens opened.