Webb’s Wonder: Saturday, 4th August 2018

Webb’s Wood can be a bit of  struggle at times. Whilst each year has delivered one session with 80 to 90 birds caught, these are usually in the winter, when the feeding stations are operating.  Other than that, the catches in spring, summer and autumn have been generally small, 20 to 30 birds in a session but often far fewer.   Today we had our best ever session in the wood: in just 3 net rides, with a total of 10 x 18 metre nets we caught 109 birds: 104 new and 5 retraps.

I was joined for the session by David and Jonny.  We had the nets open by about 6:30 and the birds started arriving soon after.  The first round produced an encouraging 30 birds: and the next few rounds were each 10 to 20 birds. A good, steady procession of birds throughout the morning until 10:00, when it started to drop off.

The Braydon Forest is a stronghold for the Marsh Tit.  Webb’s has generally been the second least productive for the species, with one or two ringed per annum (the least productive being the Firs: just over the road from it).  Last year we had an encouraging catch of new Marsh Tit: a total of 6, with 3 caught in one session.   Today we caught 6 in the one session: 5 juveniles and 1 adult.  This is the largest catch of unringed Marsh Tits in the Braydon Forest since ringing started in Ravensroost in 2009 (which held the previous highest catch, 5, in 2009 and 2011). Hopefully this bodes well for another excellent year for this species in the Forest.

The list for the day was: Treecreeper 1; Nuthatch 2; Blue Tit 23(1); Great Tit 21(1); Coal Tit 4; Marsh Tit 6; Long-tailed Tit 7(3); Wren 9; Robin 3; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 4; Chiffchaff 14; Willow Warbler 5; Goldcrest 4. Totals: 104 birds ringed from 14 species; 5 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 109 birds processed from 14 species.  86 of the birds caught were definitely juveniles fledged this year.  None of the Long-tailed Tits, nor either of the Nuthatch, were reliably identifiable as birds of this year or earlier.

14 Chiffchaffs was our best catch of the year to date for this species, and the largest at this site ever. 5 juvenile Willow Warblers was also a decent catch.

All in all, this was an excellent session, our best at Webb’s, and hopefully presages a better autumn than the spring and summer we have had so far.