Busy, busy: 12th – 15th February 2019

After Monday’s excellent session at Somerford Common, there was a lot of mid-week activity from the group members.

Jonny spent Tuesday morning ringing one of his farmland sites close to Chippenham.  His list for the day was: Blue Tit 2(3); Great Tit 4(3); Wren (1); Dunnock 2(1); Robin (1); Blackbird 3; Chaffinch 7; Greenfinch 1; House Sparrow 1; Reed Bunting 2; Yellowhammer 3.  Totals: 25 birds ringed from 9 species; 9 birds recaptured from 5 species, making 34 birds processed from 11 species.

On Wednesday Jonny, Ellie, Emmeline and myself carried out a session adjacent to the education centre at Lower Moor Farm.  Unfortunately, it was a very small catch for such a big team.  I am not sure why it was so quiet, we usually have excellent catches in this area but a mere 13 birds was really not what we were looking for: Blue Tit 2(4); Great Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit (1); Wren 1; Dunnock (1); Robin 2; Bullfinch 1.  Totals: 6 birds ringed from 4 species; 7 birds recaptured from 4 species, making 13 birds processed from 7 species.  The Bullfinch was a stunning male.  We did catch a female but she had bad legs (Fringilla Papilloma Virus) and had to be released without being ringed.

Andrew had a similarly frustrating session at Lacock Allotments on Friday.  Having been away in Iceland for a week doing his wildlife tour guide activity, he arrived at the allotments to find empty bird feeders. He topped them up and set the one net adjacent to the feeding station but the birds did not respond in any number.  His list for the session was: Blue Tit 1(3); Great Tit 3(2); Coal Tit (1); Robin 1;  Blackbird 2. Totals: 7 birds ringed from 4 species; 6 birds recaptured from 3 species, making 13 birds processed from 5 species.

Jonny, clearly being the biggest glutton for punishment, went to his other farmland site near Langley Burrell, Chippenham on Thursday.  There is a stream that runs through the site, with a narrow foot bridge across it.  Putting nets on bridges across streams is a good way of catching Kingfisher, as they bomb up and down the waterway, as Jonny found out by doing just that.

This is clearly a good site: Kingfisher (1); Blue Tit (8); Great Tit 6(3); Long-tailed Tit (1); Dunnock (1); Robin 1(1); Chaffinch 1(1); Goldfinch 5; Greenfinch 1.  Totals: 14 birds ringed from 5 species; 16 birds recaptured from 7 species, making 40 birds processed from 9 species.

Having missed out on Webb’s Wood on Sunday, as the rain kindly waited until I had finished setting my nets before falling, leaving Steph and Lillie with a wasted journey from Cirencester, and me with a car full of wet nets,  I decided to go back and run the session on Friday.  The list from the session was: Nuthatch (1); Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 6(7); Great Tit 6(8); Coal Tit 2(3); Marsh Tit (1); Robin (1); Goldcrest 1(2); Chaffinch 2.  Totals: 18 birds ringed from 6 species; 23 birds recaptured from 7 species, making 41 birds processed from 9 species.

The highlight of this catch was the recaptured Marsh Tit.  It was ringed as an adult on the 13th February 2013: making this bird at least 7 years old against a typical lifespan of 2 years. Mind, the record is over 11 years for this species.

In summary, we carried out 5 ringing sessions in 4 days, processing 131 birds from 20 species.