This was session 7 of our Constant Effort Site activity for 2019. We had a good sized team out this morning: Jonny Cooper and Andrew Bray, with David Williams joining us at 8:00. Also, we were joined by Henrietta Lowth (Henny) for the first time. She has some limited ringing experience, working with Blue Tits and Flycatchers. The former and their aggressive behaviour in the hand clearly hasn’t put her off. To date Henny hadn’t done any work with mist nets so, after a couple of hours watching the extraction techniques, she got to extract her first bird. I was kind, it was a Blackcap: one of the nicest birds to handle, and certainly one of the best to start someone’s training on extracting birds from mist nets. That she is prepared to drive from near Bath to work with us is very flattering: especially as we are starting at 4:30 in the morning at the moment.
Last year in the equivalent session (7th July 2018) we caught 36 birds from 16 species (26 ringed, 10 recaptures). After the first two rounds I was convinced that we would be exceeding that total. The catch was pretty solid between 5:00 and 8:00, and then tailed off, until we had an unexpected highlight at 9:15. It tailed off again subsequently. The hotter it gets the less the birds move around.
Since I started the CES at Lower Moor Farm in 2015, and prior to the start of this year’s CES sessions, we had ringed a total of 11 Cetti’s Warblers (including one in March of this year). Before today’s session we had ringed another 3, 2 of which were juveniles fledged this year. Our first round delivered up another Cetti’s juvenile, which was pleasing. However, our 9:15 round provided another 4 youngsters. They were all in the same net, at the same height, three were evenly dispersed and one was a little further away. They were so young that we thought that they might have been flushed from the nest by a potential predator. For the absence of doubt: nothing to do with us. The net they were caught in was at least 10m from the nearest potential nest site, and we do not flush birds from nests: it is illegal to do so. We processed them and returned them to the place from which they were extracted and where we could hear, what we presume was, an adult Cetti’s contact calling. They all flew off strongly and safely in that direction. So this year has definitely been our best ever for Cetti’s at the site: a total of 9 ringed, all bar two are juvenile birds fledged this summer and we have had 3 other birds recaptured several times.
The rest of the catch was also extremely satisfying. It was: Treecreeper ; Blue Tit 1(1); Great Tit ; Long-tailed Tit (2); Wren (4); Robin (1); Song Thrush 1(1); Blackbird 1; Cetti’s Warbler (2); Blackcap (5); Garden Warbler ; Whitethroat 1; Lesser Whitethroat ; Chiffchaff 1(2); Willow Warbler 1. Totals: 6 adults ringed from 6 species; 62 juveniles ringed from 11 species and 18 birds recaptured from 8 species, making 86 birds processed from 15 species.
Wrens are having the most astonishing breeding season: in the last month we have caught 37 newly-fledged juveniles, with 10 in this session being the icing on the cake.
All of the summer visitor warblers are showing signs of a successful breeding season, with a fine catch of juveniles from both Blackcap (78) and Chiffchaff (53), and smaller but significant catches of Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, all caught in the last month. As this is just the start of the fledging period, and many of these will already have gone on to have a second brood, and might even stretch to a third, this could be a bumper year for them.
Over the course of the morning we had quite a few visitors: a member of teh Care Farm staff taking one of her young charges for a walk; a grandma taking her grandson out to enjoy the sunshine; a photographer looking out for dragonflies, who was lucky enough to be with us when we made the catch of the Cetti’s family, and a large group of infants and their parents doing forest school with staff from the Trust, who turned up when we didn’t have any birds to show: but I took them around the nets and did manage to show them a superb Brown Hawker dragonfly (Google it) that had become trapped in the net. I successfully extracted it without damage, and was able to show him off to the children before releasing him to hunt for smaller insects for food.
We closed the nets at about 11:20 and took down and were away from site by 12:15. A cracking, good session.