The Firs: Sunday, 12th November 2017

It has been quite a while since we have managed to get onto this site: and yesterday’s continuous rain and an iffy forecast for the Sunday put it in doubt again.  Fortunately, the rain relented earlier than forecast on Sunday morning and we could start setting nets at 6:30.  In preparation for the session, I had set up a feeding station on the previous Thursday, knowing that it would mean we would be rather overrun by titmice, but always hopeful of something more interesting dropping in.  In the event, it was one each of the Blue and Great Tits that provided the interest, although retrapping Marsh Tit at this site is hugely encouraging, with them having been scarce here between 2012 and the end of 2016.

I was joined for the session by Jonny and Steph; and Steph’s partner, Stuart, came along to see why she leaves him early on a weekend morning.

D056608 is a Blue Tit ringed as a juvenile at a private garden site on Wood Lane about 1km away from its recapture at the Firs.  It was first captured and ringed on my second ever solo ringing session on the 1st September 2012.  Since then, it moved from the garden to the Firs sometime between February and November 2013, where is seems to have established itself.  With this capture it is the sixth time it has been processed.  Now, at the age of 5 years it has certainly exceeded the average life expectancy of this species (3 years) but it has another 5 years to go before it beats the oldest known recorded Blue Tit.

VZ11939 is a Great Tit, ringed as a second year bird in Ravensroost Woods on the 16th February this month, and recovered in the Firs yesterday.  I don’t get many movements between Ravensroost and the Firs.  Both Blue and Great Tits have been recovered within the Braydon Forest that have moved between sites, but they are usually between the Firs, Webb’s Wood and the Wood Lane garden site, or between Ravensroost and Somerford Common.

The list for the session was: Treecreeper 2; Blue Tit 11(12); Great Tit 3(7); Coal Tit 4(4); Marsh Tit (2); Long-tailed Tit 2; Wren 2; Robin 2(2); Goldcrest 3.  Totals: 29 birds ringed from eight species; 27 birds recaptured from five species, making 56 birds processed from nine species.  With nearly a 50:50 split between new and retrapped birds, this underlines the value of consistent ringing practices within an area, giving solid information for management of the site and valuable conservation data for the national database.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Geoff Sample (great name for a sound recordist – nominative determinism at its finest); Jean C La Roche and the Latvian love song, no Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch or Redwing troubled our nets.  The site lived up to its local nickname of the “Braydon Bog” – with some of the muddiest conditions we have seen for a long time.  Despite the lack of variety, we had a good morning and the opportunity for comparing juvenile and adult birds for tricky species, like Coal and Marsh Tit.

Simon Tucker

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