A cold session at Red Lodge this morning where I was helped by Jonny and David (back from University at Aberystwyth for the Easter). Unfortunately, with no-one in the vicinity of the University willing to help out, the only ringing David currently gets is in the holidays. We have reached out to people but to no avail. Fortunately, he has a fantastic memory and picks the thread up again very quickly.
There is a significant issue with getting enough people to give training to potential ringers. Having said that, there is also an issue of people saying they would like to train to ring and then never turning up for even a taster session. I must have had 20 applications in the last three years, only 2 of whom have turned up at all. Neither of those has continued (I reckon it is the early mornings, it can’t be my charming personality). In fact, all of my team have come through ringing demonstrations, or just meeting us when we have been out ringing and becoming fascinated by what we do. This morning we were joined by a young lad of 12, along with his father, for a taster session. He came through contact with the Wiltshire Bird Recorder, Nick Adams. We started by showing him how to safely handle and release the birds and then let him progress to ringing and measuring a few of them. He did extremely well for a first session. Hopefully he will have enjoyed it sufficiently to want to come again.
This morning highlighted that we are on the cusp of the seasons for our bird life. Most of the birds we processed were showing signs of developing breeding activity: males with cloacal protuberances and females developing brood patches. One female Blue Tit had a fully developed brood patch and weighed in at 12g with no fat. She must be already laying eggs, or is close to doing so, and is ready to brood them. There was a lot of song and calling, as males were proclaiming their ownership of territories. However, at about 8:30, a flock of some 40 Fieldfare flew across the wood, heading in a north-westerly direction. One would have expected them to have already left for their breeding grounds.
The catch was a mix of resident and summer migrant species: Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 1(1); Coal Tit 2; Wren 4(1); Dunnock 1; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 6; Chiffchaff 5; Goldcrest 1(1). Totals: 22 birds ringed from 9 species; 3 birds recaptured from 3 species, making 25 birds processed from 9 species.
The highlights of the day were: my first Orange Tip butterfly of the year and a lovely Oxlip plant in amongst the Primroses:
Also, there were plenty of Dog Violet flowers out in the undergrowth:
All in all, it was a cold but interesting session. It is always good to see the Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps returning. Hopefully we will have better numbers of each species this year than we did in the last couple. The initial portents are encouraging.