Ravensroost Coppice Project 1: Monday / Tuesday 7th & 8th May 2018

This is the sixth year of the project I have been running in Ravensroost Woods, with teh help of the team for the last three years, looking to see what impact, if any, the 8-year coppicing regime has on the birds using the area.  Exactly the same as with the BTO Constant Effort site, we set the same amount of net in the same places year on year so that the only difference is in what is happening with the coppice and the birds visiting the wood.  There are four areas within the coppice, all at different stages of the cycle, which are contrasted with another area that is managed but not coppiced.

On Monday I was joined by Jonny and Annie, and on Tuesday I worked solo (but with only 10 birds caught that day, I was hardly over-extended).  This is the downside of project work: you do it regardless of the result. The uncoppiced area has actually seen a regular decrease in birds caught over the years. I cannot be sure what the issue is but I suspect it is something as simple as the trees are six years taller and perhaps the birds are just overflying the nets. Who knows?

The list for the session was: Treecreeper 1(1); Blue Tit 4(2); Great Tit 1(3); Marsh Tit (1); Wren 1(1); Song Thrush 2; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 5(2); Garden Warbler 1(3); Chiffchaff 2(1); Bullfinch 2(1).  Totals: 20 birds ringed from 10 species; 15 birds retrapped from 9 species, making 35 birds processed from 11 species.  The proportion of retrapped birds in the catch was 42.9%.

The three retrapped Garden Warblers were all originally ringed in the coppiced area and retrapped there. One of them, D983204 was ringed as an adult in May 2014.  This bird has, therefore, made the trip to and from the rain-forests of the Congo six times: the 45,000 miles involved is just mind-boggling.  The newly ringed one was caught in the control area: only the second caught in that area, the first was caught there in 2014.

We also caught an already ringed Blackcap that was not on one of our rings. I submitted the records on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday afternoon I had heard back from the BTO.  It was ringed as a juvenile in Northamptonshire in September 2017 at the wonderfully named Boar’s Head Farm.  This is the beauty of the new on-line system for data entry.  In the past (and quite a few ringers are still living in the past) data was entered into an MS-Access database on your computer.  If you were a member of a ringing group, like the West Wilts Ringing group, you would save up your data until you felt there was sufficient to produce a submission file. You would then create the file and send it to the ringing group secretary.  The ringing group secretary would then wait until they decided they had enough records to warrant sending a submission to the BTO and produce a file.  There could be months between getting an exciting recapture and getting the details back, because of the built in inertia of that sort of system. Now, all ringers in the group enter their own data directly into the database assessment area. I get notification there are records waiting, check them and submit them – all without any files being transferred anywhere.  As a result, we get the results very quickly.  Ain’t technology wonderful?