The Firs is known locally as the Braydon Bog: apart from a brief time in mid-summer it is a very wet wood. Today, with the arrival of sub-zero temperatures, it was actually solid underfoot for once.
Jonny Cooper and I set up a few nets around the feeding station and one at the bottom of the wood. All nets caught, those by the feeding station being busiest. The first couple of hours were busy, but it tailed off quite quickly and, coupled with recatching several birds already processed this morning, we packed up at 11:00. As usual, the catch was titmouse heavy.
However, we had an excellent catch of five new Nuthatch, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker and, on our last round, a Jay. The list for the session was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Nuthatch 5; Jay 1; Blue Tit 10(7); Great Tit 3(10); Coal Tit 3(5); Marsh Tit (2); Wren 1(1); Robin (2); Blackbird 2; Goldcrest (1). Totals: 26 birds ringed from eight species; 28 birds retrapped from seven species, making 54 birds processed from 11 species.
It was a good session but there were a few diseased birds in the catch: two Great Tits were suffering quite badly with avian pox. The lesions were large and unsightly but not life-threatening. In addition a third Great Tit had the worst tick infestation I have seen for a long time. I removed over 20 of them from its head. The worst though was a male Bullfinch, with horrendous warty excrescences on both of its legs, caused by Fringilla Papillomavirus. It was the worst case I have seen for a very long time. Obviously, we just released the bird without ringing it.