With the weather looking really dire for the rest of this week, I moved Wednesday’s projected session at Red Lodge to Saturday. I was joined by my most experienced trainee, Jonny Cooper, for the session. It was dull and overcast to start, with a couple of short showers of extremely fine, mist-like rain. Not long enough or heavy enough to warrant shutting the nets but irritating nonetheless. As the morning wore on the cloud broke and the sun came out but, unfortunately, the wind also got up – no doubt the forerunner to storm Freya – and we had to close the nets at 11:30 to avoid potential injury to the birds.
The primroses were out in full bloom: entirely appropriate for the second day of the meteorological Spring. We didn’t have one of our larger catches: I think that this unusual weather has got the birds less interested in food and more interested in setting up breeding territories. It was still an interesting morning though. The catch was: Nuthatch (1); Blue Tit 7(2); Great Tit 4(7); Coal Tit 1; Marsh Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit (1); Robin 1(1); Blackbird (1); Goldcrest 3(1); Chaffinch 3. Totals: 19 birds ringed from 6 species; 15 birds recaptured from 8 species, making a total of 34 birds processed from 10 species.
Of interest: both the Blackbird and the Long-tailed Tit were males, showing a well-developed cloacal protuberance, i.e. ready to mate already. Blackbirds are multi-brooded and, weather-permitting, will sometimes start breeding as early as March. Long-tailed Tits are single-brooded, and frequently start breeding in March.