Brambling ambling in at Somerford Common: Monday, 11th February 2019

On Sunday I planned a session at Webb’s Wood. The forecast was for the rain to stop at 7:00 and for it to stay dry until midday.  I thought I would have a bit of lie-in and go for a 7:30 start.  I had the nets up and open by 8:15. At approximately 8:16 it started to rain: not heavy but persistent drizzle, so I took down again.  Very annoying: a solitary Blackbird, who blundered into a closed net, got a nice new ring.  That was disappointing. However, I had arranged with Jonny Cooper that we would be having another session at Somerford Common on Monday.

Having set up a feeding station at this part of the site two weeks ago, and carrying out the previously blogged about test session last week, Jonny suggested some slight changes to the net rides, and they paid dividends.

The southern end of Somerford Common always used to be my go to place for Lesser Redpoll, not that we ever caught that many but it was regular, with 10 being the largest catch. For a number of perfectly valid reasons (improving the habitat for Marsh Fritillary being a key one), the Forestry Commission carried out some significant clearing work which reduced its attractiveness to birds, so catching 3 Lesser Redpoll and a Siskin last week was encouraging. Catching 14 Lesser Redpoll and another 2 Siskin this morning is evidence that this site has recovered significantly.

However, the real highlight was unexpected, if not tried for. We had heard a few Brambling around the area but these birds have never been caught and ringed in any part of the Braydon Forest. There is no reason why not: most of the Forest is beech wood and they are regularly caught in the woods to the east of Swindon and in Savernake Forest and the surrounding woodlands but they just never seemed to get to the woods west of Swindon. I had spread some seed on the floor for Chaffinch and put on a lure for Brambling just in case. It worked: a male and a female dropped in and were caught and ringed.

2019_02_11Bramb

In addition, we caught another Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 new Nuthatch, and another new Marsh Tit at the site and recaptured the Marsh Tit ringed last week.  Amongst all of the other birds caught, we did recapture a Blue Tit that was ringed as a juvenile in October 2017, and has been recaptured on several occasions, most recently in April of last year. On each of those occasions we noticed nothing out of the ordinary. This time it was sporting a huge avian pox pustule. Its weight was fine and it was feisty enough. We gave the weighing pot a thorough clean out with alcohol rub after weighing it: We don’t want to be culpable in spreading the infection.

2019_02_11Bluti Pox

The list for the day was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Nuthatch 3; Blue Tit 16(7); Great Tit 4(8); Coal Tit 3(1); Marsh Tit 1(1); Robin 1; Chaffinch 6(1); Brambling 2; Goldfinch 4(1); Lesser Redpoll 14; Siskin 2. Totals: 57 birds ringed from 12 species; 19 birds recaptured from 6 species, making a total of 76 birds processed from 12 species.

On returning home, looking out the kitchen window, I couldn’t understand why there were no birds on the feeders and then I saw this fellow sat on the garden fence:

2019_02_11Sparr

I couldn’t get close enough to get a better photo but you can see what it is.