Saturday’s session was session 4 on our CES schedule. Jonny, Steph and Luke joined me for the morning. It was the first session this year that delivered a better return than in the equivalent session last year. Not a major change: 40 birds from 15 species, compared with 37 from 14 species in 2017 but any potential improvement is welcome. The number of newly fledged juveniles was identical (18) but only 6 species so far this year, compared with 10 in 2017. We had our first juvenile Chiffchaff for the year:
Swiftly followed by a couple of Long-tailed Tits:
At the risk of sounding soppy: they are so cute!
We had a good catch of juvenile Blue Tits. Two of them were very small, and clearly fresh out of the nest. The two smallest birds were also carrying a number of ticks: the larger had just the one and the smaller had six. I managed to remove all of them using a pair of needle forceps. You know you have done it correctly when there is no bleeding from the birds: even more so when the ticks themselves continue to walk around looking for another host to attach to. They were dropped into a container for delivery to the Trust, as there is a project looking into the different tick species parasitising birds.
The list for the day was: Blue Tit 7(1); Great Tit 3; Long-tailed Tit 2; Dunnock 1(1); Robin 7; Song Thrush 1(3); Blackbird (1); Blackcap 1(2); Garden Warbler (1); Whitethroat (2); Lesser Whitethroat 1; Chiffchaff 1(1); Chaffinch (1); Bullfinch (2); Reed Bunting 1. Totals: 25 birds ringed from 10 species, 15 birds recaptured from 10 species, making 40 birds processed from 15 species and a recapture rate of 37.5%.
One of the pleasures of working at Lower Moor Farm is that every day is different. Today, for example, the trout in Mallard Lake were clearly in the mood for feasting on flying insects. We are used to seeing the odd leaping trout, but this was incessant, from when we arrived at 4:30 until we left at 12:00 there was a constant splashing of these large fish slapping back into the water as they leapt clear to catch an insect. I have no idea what their success rate is but the simple fact that they manage it at all, as water distorts sight-lines, makes you wonder about the eye structure and vision of these fish.
There was an impressive display of Odonata. Common Blue, Azure Blue, Red-eyed and Large Red Damselflies were everywhere but it was the dragons that really caught the eye.My first Emperor of the year, plus Four-Spot Chasers and a couple of what I can only hope are Hairy Dragon flies. The maps show them being around the general area but, having never seen them before, I am hoping that someone else will be able to confirm the identification.