Willow Warblers & Barn Owls: Saturday, 16th June 2018

Today was the first time we have managed to ring in Red Lodge in June since 2014.  One of the problems with CES and project work is that it tends to relegate other sites to be fitted in when possible.  Jonny and I had a bit of a late start, 5:00, as the earlier weather forecast was a bit showery.  We had one shower whilst putting up the nets but, apart from that, no issues until the wind got up at 10:00 and we had to end the session.

There was a lovely catch of juvenile birds: great to see several species having a successful breeding season.  The best part of the catch was the five Willow Warblers that we caught.  This equals, in one catch, the total number caught at Red Lodge since I started ringing there in 2012.  None of the other Willow Warblers caught at the site could have definitively said to have bred at the site.  We had one adult male caught on spring passage and four fully fledged and post-moult juveniles caught on autumn passage in the past.  These five comprised one adult female with a well-developed brood patch and four youngsters who have not yet started their post-fledging moult.  This is proof positive of successful breeding by Willow Warblers in Red Lodge.  When the national picture is one of declining breeding in the south of England, as the breeding population seems to have moved further north, with breeding in Scotland much increased, this is a significant result.

That was the main highlight, but we were also delighted to ring our first Treecreeper (1), Blackcap (2), Blue (2), Great (10) and Coal Tit (1) fledglings of the year. We also had young of Robin (1) and Chiffchaff (4) in the catch.

Our list at Red Lodge was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 3; Great Tit 13; Coal Tit 1; Wren 3; Robin 1(1); Blackcap 7; Chiffchaff 4; Willow Warbler 5; Chaffinch 1.  Totals: 39 birds ringed from 10 species; 2 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 41 birds processed from 11 species.

The only downside to the session at Red Lodge: it would seem that the bird table vandal has struck again.  This time the table-top has been smashed off and dumped and the mounting stake stolen.  One of the locals has said that there are groups coming in on quad bikes and building camps in the wood. In which case, it might be a different issue, with them stealing it for part of their encampment.

Another thing that struck us as wrong: at about 8:00 this morning we heard a Roe Deer start barking. At the same time there was a cacophony of dog barking: clearly more than one dog.  It went on for about 20 minutes.  We didn’t have time to investigate but it did not sound good for the deer. I am not a sentimentalist: I just like my venison shot by professionals, not ripped apart by dogs.

As our session finished early we took the opportunity to visit a couple of Barn Owl boxes and the Jackdaw nests at Blakehill Farm.  We were fortunate enough to catch and ring one adult Barn Owl and two chicks in the nest (I have the appropriate schedule 1 licence for that) but both Jackdaw nests were empty.  Jonny had ringed a few Barn Owl chicks previously but no adults and so, despite it being the first caught on my rings, I gave him the opportunity.  As neither Jackdaw nest showed signs of damage I would like to think that the young fledged successfully.