At this time of year we are grateful if the weather allows us to get out on site. With the windy conditions so prevalent this winter, we were rather restricted to ringing in more sheltered areas: primarily woodland. This is a brief synposis of three sessions carried out in the Braydon Forest: Ravensroost Woods on the 4th; Webb’s Wood on the 11th and Red Lodge on the 14th. (Our session at Lower Moor Farm on the 7th, with just 12 birds caught, underlines how hit and miss ringing can be at this time of year, unless you provide a feeding station to attract them in.) One has to accept that the variety will be relatively low but hopefully there might be the odd winter visitor in the mix. Unfortunately, no special winter visitors but good numbers of Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Steph joined me at Ravensroost for the session on the 4th. We had a small catch of 33 birds: Nuthatch (3); Blue Tit 5(2); Great Tit 6(6); Coal Tit (7); Marsh Tit (2); Robin (2). Totals: 11 birds ringed from two species; 22 birds retrapped from six species, making 33 birds processed from six species.
In amongst that catch was a Marsh Tit, Z197228. This bird was ringed as a juvenile on the 20th September 2014. It has been caught a further 14 times, weighing in at 10g +/- 0.5g on every occasion.
Webb’s Wood is our go to site for catching Siskin. We had a good turn out of Jonny, Steph, Lillie and Suzanne Binks, joining us for her first taster session, having approached the BTO for the opportunity to train as a ringer. Unfortunately, no Siskin put in an appearance. However, we did process 41 birds from seven species. The catch was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Nuthatch (1); Blue Tit 12(2); Great Tit 8(2); Coal Tit 3(6); Robin 2; Chaffinch 4. Totals: 29 birds ringed from five species and 12 birds ringed from five species.
So to Valentine’s Day and a trip to Red Lodge. I went over on the Tuesday lunchtime to top up the feeders, and was encouraged to find the seed feeders nearly empty again when we arrived on site. I was joined by Suzanne and, being the only ringer on site, we only put up two nets rides. The session was very busy but, unfortunately, the weather changed at 10:30 and we had to shut the nets. It was a decent catch, titmouse heavy as usual, but continuing our run of Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker captures.
The list for the morning was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (2); Nuthatch 2(1); Blue Tit 20(10); Great Tit 7(9); Coal Tit 4(3); Long-tailed Tit (1); Wren 1; Dunnock (1); Goldcrest (1); Chaffinch 1. Totals: 35 birds ringed from six species; 28 birds retrapped from eight species, making 63 birds processed from 10 species.
We did one of our impromptu ringing sessions. Whenever we ring in Red Lodge we have a chat with one of the residents of the old Forestry Commission houses, who does his morning run through the wood. He asked if he could bring his grandchildren over to have a look at the birds. Happy to oblige and we were able to show them two Nuthatches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest and a Wren, as well as the Blue, Great and Coal Tits.
The best thing about ringing in Red Lodge this winter has been the absence of the vandalism of our feeding station and no repeat of the theft of bird feeders. Support from the Forestry Commission, using remote camera monitoring, has certainly helped but I think that raising awareness of the problems with the local residents has also done its bit.