With Saturday being a miserable, drizzly day Jonny and I pushed back the session to Sunday. The forecast was for it to be a drier day but windy. My usual ringing site at Lower Moor farm would have been too exposed to a north-easterly wind, so we moved to the area by the Visitor Centre and the Children’s Education Area.
When we set the nets I thought that the three net sets in the Children’s Education Area would provide the major part of the catch. In fact, the single net set adjacent to the road way produced 70 of the 79 birds caught.
The first round was the largest, with a good number of Redwing and a sizeable tit flock caught in the road nets. Thereafter, it was steady influx of birds leading to a catch comprising: Blue Tit 14(5); Great Tit 7(3); Long-tailed Tit (4); Wren 7(1); Dunnock 5; Robin 4(1); Redwing 16; Song Thrush 1; Blackbird 1; Goldcrest 1; Chaffinch 1; Goldfinch 5; Bullfinch 3. Totals: 65 birds ringed from 12 species, 14 birds recaptured from 5 species, making 79 birds processed from 13 species.
As is usual for this time of year, we set several lures. two for Redwing, and one each for Lesser Redpoll and Chaffinch. The Redwing lure worked beautifully in the road net, where all 16 were caught, the others failed miserably. What they did do was create work for me: as I spent the entire session accosting birders as they arrived in the car park, to warn them not to be fooled by the lures. As a result, I also spent quite a lot of time doing impromptu ringing demonstrations to interested parties. This is something I enjoy doing, but I also think it is important to engage people in the process, so they understand why we do it and that the birds are not compromised by it. Jonny having left early, due to a prior commitment, coupled with ensuring the nets were cleared regularly, kept me pretty busy for the rest of the session.
My session highlight was catching the Song Thrush: my record sheets for the ring size CC prior to this catch showed nothing but Redwing for the last 50 captures. I expect to see a couple of hundred more Redwing over the course of the winter but will hopefully be interspersed with a good number of Song Thrush. We have a good sized population of these declining birds in north Wiltshire, and I regularly ring 30 to 40 per year, since an all time low of just 4 in 2013.