Webb’s Wood, Sunday 1st April & Lower Moor Farm, Thursday, 5th April 2018

These two sessions were both scheduled for the day before they were actually carried out but, because of the weather, each had to be postponed for 24 hours.  My team is scheduled to do approximately 100 ringing sessions per annum. In the last year we have had to cancel 25% of them and move another 5% because of the change in the weather to a wetter and windier profile.

I have removed the feeding stations from all of the sites now, so we will not be catching the Tit flocks that have been the staple of our winter catches.  At Webb’s Wood I was joined by Steph and David (back from university for the Easter holidays), and we set up a few nets along the main tracks at the top end of the wood.  There wasn’t a large catch but it was a pleasant session with no pressure on extracting the birds.  As we have been unable to find a trainer for David to work with whilst in Aberystwyth, I am astonished at how quickly he gets back into the extraction and processing techniques.

The catch for the day was: Blue Tit 4(1); Great Tit (1); Coal Tit 2; Long-tailed Tit (2); Robin 3; Song Thrush (1); Chiffchaff 2; Goldcrest 3(4). Totals: 14 birds ringed from five species, nine birds retrapped from five species, making 23 birds processed from eight species.

There was nothing exceptional in the catch, but it is always good to retrap Goldcrests at the end of the winter: weighing in at approximately 5g survival must always be on a knife-edge.

Our trip to Lower Moor Farm on Thursday was not only the wrong day but also the wrong site.  We had scheduled to ring at Blakehill Farm but, due to an unfortunate confusion, I was given the wrong combination for the padlock on the gate and, as it is about one mile to the ringing site, I wasn’t prepared to carry my kit that far, even with Jonny’s help.  Rather than telephoning people at 6:15 in the morning to get the correct code (apparently not everybody is up bright and early), we decided to decamp to Lower Moor Farm.

It was a lovely morning but not too many birds hitting the nets. However, we had our first Blackcaps of the year arrive on site, with four males and a female being caught.  All five were carrying reasonable levels of fat for birds that have completed the longest part of their migration.

The catch was: Treecreeper 1(1); Blue Tit 1(1); Long-tailed Tit (2); Wren 1; Dunnock 1(2); Robin 1; Song Thrush 2; Blackbird (1); Blackcap 5; Chiffchaff 1; Bullfinch 1(1). Totals: 14 birds ringed from nine species; eight birds retrapped from six species, making 22 birds processed from 11 species.  It is a good start to the early Spring migration. The only downside: it was perfect weather for working at Blakehill Farm.