One of the key benefits of the Ravensroost Woods site is that, when the wind is blowing hard elsewhere, in the middle of this wood it usually remains calm. It can be quite odd to sit at the ringing station watching the tops of the trees blowing backwards and forwards whilst remaining unaffected by it. This was how it worked out this morning. I was joined for the session by Jonny Cooper, Andrew Bray and David Williams.
The catch was sporadic, with good rounds often being interspersed by two empty rounds. My usual rule is that if I have two empty rounds I will pack up and go home. Today I waived the rule and it paid dividends. Mind, if I had stuck to it we would have packed up at 9:00.
There were several highlights in the session: unfortunately, no photographs were of sufficiently good quality to include, except this highly cropped one of our first juvenile Willow Warbler of the year:
One of the key projects for my team is the Braydon Forest Marsh Tit project. Marsh Tits are seriously in decline, almost certainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. They are a highly sedentary species: with fewer than 5% of individuals moving more than 5km from their natal woodland. For example, we have ringed over 120 Marsh Tits in the Forest since we started the project in autumn 2012. Only 1 of those birds has moved to a different woodland: it was ringed in Webb’s Wood and recaptured in Red Lodge. We colour ring Marsh Tits so that they can be identified in the field by birders / casual observers. This morning we caught our first juvenile of the year. Hopefully we will catch a fair few more in the next couple of months.
Our third new fledgling species for the morning was a Nuthatch. This brings the number of species confirmed breeding at our sites, from which we have been able to ring newly-fledged juveniles, so far this year to 22 species. Our complete list for the day was: Nuthatch ; Treecreeper ; Blue Tit (1); Great Tit (2); Coal Tit ; Marsh Tit ; Long-tailed Tit 1(1); Wren ; Robin (2); Song Thrush ; Blackbird 3(1); Blackcap 1(2); Garden Warbler ; Chiffchaff 3; Willow Warbler 1. Totals: 9 adults ringed from 5 species; 29 juveniles ringed from 14 species and 9 birds recaptured from 6 species, making a total of 47 birds processed from 15 species. To capture 15 species of bird in a relatively small part of a medium sized wood with no lures or inducements (like feeding stations) speaks well of the structure and quality of the habitat.
As the period within which we have been ringing in Ravensroost Woods grows, it is always good to catch birds that have been ringed on the site and have survived four or more years. This morning we recaptured a Robin, ring number D983334, which was ringed as a juvenile on the 24th June 2014. It has presumably inhabited the wood during that time, but this was the first time it had been recaptured since it was ringed as a newly fledged juvenile back then. It needs to survive another 4 years and 4 months if it is to surpass the current longevity record for a bird of this species, that was set in 1977. However, they typically live for 1 years and the annual mortality rate of second year plus bird is 50%.
With the catch having decreased significantly, we packed up at 11:00 after a satisfying session. In the equivalent session last year we ringed only 14 birds and recaptured 5, so this was a significant improvement.