Authored by Jonny Cooper.
Meadow Farm is a site incorporating hedgerows, woodland, grassland and the river Avon near to Sutton Benger in Wiltshire. When starting to ring at a site one of the main things that takes time is getting an idea of the best places to put nets and what works for the site. Over the summer and autumn I have been getting out to Meadow Farm as often as I can, to try out new ideas for net rides etc. This has led to catches settling at a pretty regular 50 birds per session, with interesting birds, like Kingfisher and Jackdaw being caught, as well as good numbers of migrant birds on autumn passage.
Moving into winter I have stared to regularly fill up a few feeders on the site, to try and attract in some of the wintering flocks of birds that frequent the wet woodland and fields adjacent to the ringing area. So, when I turned up to do a session on Friday I was reasonably confident of a good catch.
I set most of the nets the evening before and was on site before sunrise to try to catch a few Redwing coming out of roost. The first round at 7:00 provided 8 of these lovely thrushes. Dawn broke to a still and overcast day, perfect ringing conditions. Things really started to kick off for the next round with 37 birds extracted and processed, this busy theme continued for the rest of the morning. It seemed every round was producing nets full of birds.
The list for the morning was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Blue Tit 26(11), Great Tit 9(13), Long-tailed Tit 6(1), Wren 4(2), Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Redwing 9, Blackbird 2, Chaffinch 2, Goldfinch 45, Greenfinch 6, Yellowhammer 1. A total of 111 birds ringed from 11 species and 29 re-traps from 6 species, making 140 birds processed from 13 species.
45 Goldfinches is a particularly good catch, being the most abundant species for the session. It seems Blue Tits can be outdone, even at feeders. The Yellowhammer was the second for the site, the first being a female back in June. The Redwing were good to catch and observing birds moving around the site has given me some more ideas for places to try and set nets to catch more of these winter visitors. Altogether an incredible session that exceeded any expectations I had.