In Between the Showers: Webb’s Wood, Wednesday, 7th August 2019

Why is it so difficult to forecast the weather? It seems that none of the usual suspects can get it right. Before deciding on this session I checked the Met Office, xcweather, Meteo Group and, just for luck, because they now take their weather from Meteo, the BBC.  All of them said dry and windy with only the Met Office suggesting any chance of rain before midday.

I met with Jonny and Henny at Webb’s Wood for a 5:00 start and we set up 4 rides of nets. My last two woodland sessions had been hugely disappointing, after the Tuesday night storms of last week, so I was hoping that this would be better.  It kicked off okay, with a juvenile Willow Warbler, a Blue Tit, a Robin and a Wren in the nets as soon as they were opened at 5:45. Cue the first sharp and forceful downpour. Everything, including my record sheets, was soaked in seconds.  We shut the nets.  That lasted a mere 15 minutes but caused a lot of mess.

We then had 45 minutes of calm before the next “shower” hit: this lasted until 8:00 and was, again, very heavy.  Again, the nets were furled until it passed.  Thereafter, every once in a while we had a fleeting light shower.  Why do they spend all that money on super-computers and satellites? Seaweed is cheaper and every bit as accurate!  The wind did finally get up: about 30 minutes before we decided to pack up for the day.

To be fair, given the weather, it was a half-decent session: twice as good as our last two woodland ringing trips.  The list for the day was: Nuthatch {1}; Blue Tit [1](1); Great Tit 1[1]; Coal Tit [1](1); Long-tailed Tit [3]; Wren [3]; Robin [3](1); Blackbird [2]; Chiffchaff [2]; Willow Warbler [1]; Goldcrest [4](1); Bullfinch 2.  Totals: 1 unaged ringed; 3 adults ringed from 2 species; 21 juveniles ringed from 10 species and 4 birds recaptured from 4 species, making a total of 29 birds processed from 12 species.  Good variety and it would have been better had a Song Thrush not managed to extricate itself from the net just as I stepped up to extract it.

The Nuthatch is “unaged” because adults and juveniles both go through moult in the late summer and autumn and moult into full adult plumage. This Nuthatch had completed its moult and so cannot be reliably aged at this time.  In another month or so the same will apply to the Long-tailed Tits.  The three juveniles processed today are getting close to the end of their moult and, although the eye-ring of the juveniles is usually red and that of the adults usually orange, this characteristic is not reliable enough to accurately age birds post-moult.

We were joined at just gone 6:00 by a grandmother and grandson combo, Glenda and Brendan, who had enquired of the Wildlife Trust about seeing ringing.  The Trust put them in touch with me and we arranged for them to attend this session. It was good that we had plenty of variety to show them. They were both keen and attentive and will be welcome back at any time.

In between the showers there was a great deal of insect activity: Black-tailed Skimmers and Emperor Dragonflies were seen, as well as a good selection of butterflies, including this Brown Argus female who posed for an age whilst I fiddled around with exposure times to get the best balance of colour:

Common Blue

What a stunning little butterfly it is!  We packed up at 11:30, with the weather throwing one final, but light, shower at us as we were packing the stuff away in the car.