Kings Farm Wood: Friday, 16th March 2018

This is the first ever ringing session at Kings Farm Wood.  We usually do our ringing demonstrations for the Swindon Wildlife Group at the Ravensroost complex, but this year we were asked to do something different and the suggestion was the Clout’s Wood complex, of which Kings Farm Wood is a significant part.  The ringing demonstration has been set for the 24th March and, in preparation for that, I went for a test session this morning.  I set up two feeding stations last week, which I topped up this Wednesday afternoon, and are now actively being visited by birds.  As I was on my own, having shifted the session from Saturday to today because of the dire weather forecast for the weekend, I decided to set just two rides of two nets by the feeding stations.
That plan changed almost immediately: I put up the first net at the furthest feeding station and by the time I had erected the second net at that location, there were six birds in the first net.  It remained catching constantly throughout the morning.  As you expect in a wood at this time of year by a feeding station, the catch was mainly titmice, particularly Blue and Great Tits.  However there was a decent variety over the course of the morning.
Interestingly, in the area where the other feeding station is set up there were several additional species not caught today, but hopefully will be so when that ride is netted.  These included Magpie, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Wren and Great Spotted Woodpecker.  There were also several singing Chiffchaffs on site who managed to avoid the nets.
Anyway, todays catch was:  Blue Tit 24; Great Tit 16; Coal Tit 2; Long-tailed Tit 4; Dunnock 4; Robin 2; Chaffinch 2; Bullfinch 2.  Total: 56 birds ringed from eight species.  Unsurprisingly, this being the first time the site has ever been ringed, there were no retrapped birds – apart from half-a-dozen same day retraps.  I did catch a third each of Chaffinch and Bullfinch but they both had Fringilla Papilloma Virus, so I released them.  I also used alcohol rub on my hands to ensure I didn’t pass anything onto the other vulnerable species and cleaned their legs with alcohol as well to be doubly sure.
I will top up the feeders again next Thursday, to make sure they are ready for the demonstration on Saturday.  It looks very promising.  I think we will have plenty of birds and should have a decent variety for the demonstration, without going overboard with too many nets set up: I think eight nets will do.

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