2018 has proven to be the group’s busiest year since the North Wilts group split off at the end of 2012: with over 5,000 birds ringed and over 1,300 birds recaptured from 63 species. The increase in numbers is almost certainly down to the increased activity of our C-permit holders Andrew Bray, Andy Palmer and Jonny Cooper. Andy has been very busy with his Salisbury Plain sites and his garden; Andrew has done as much with the North Wilts group as he has with the West Wilts group and Jonny has added a touch of the exotic to our catch in a land-locked county, through his work with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
This year’s highlights have been: the quite astonishing number of Meadow Pipits caught at Blakehill Farm in the autumn: 98 in one session and a total of 155 ringed and 2 retrapped. Of the two retrapped birds, one had been ringed on Salisbury Plain, at West Down Plantation one week before we recovered it. One of our birds was recovered in south Oxfordshire, at Westmill Farm, near Shrivenham, 5 days after being ringed at Blakehill. We are reasonably confident that the numbers were a result of an exceptional irruption of crane flies in September. The increase was not restricted to Blakehill: Andy caught 12 in one session on Salisbury Plain and I caught my first for the site at Brown’s Farm, just south of Marlborough, in February, with a further 19 in one session in September.
Another species showing a huge increase in numbers was Redwing. The year started with our first recaptured Redwing, caught in the same net that it was originally caught in when it was ringed two years previously. This was the first time a Redwing has been retrapped in Wiltshire in different winters. Then in the autumn the numbers went through the roof: 131 on Salisbury Plain and the majority of the rest in the Braydon Forest sites, plus 36 at Meadow Farm just north of Chippenham.
Yellowhammer numbers were also in the ascendant: the Salisbury Plain delivered 84 birds, Bailey’s Farm near Chippenham 45 and Brown’s Farm 32 out of a total of 166 birds (162 ringed, 4 retraps). Other birds showing significant increases are: Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat. Both Blue and Great Tit numbers were also significantly up on last year as they continue to recover from the disaster of 2016.
Significant reductions were seen in Blackcap (-105); Chiffchaff (-226); Robin (-181); Wren (-96) and Blackbird (-44).
Ian and Andy continued their long-term commitment to the Wessex Stone Curlew project, with them monitoring several breeding pairs and ringing 11 youngsters over the course of the summer.
Birds processed on WWRG Sessions:
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||18||13||31|
Birds processed by WWRG members at third party sessions:
An excellent year for the Group with a lot to look forward to in 2019.