Ravensroost Woods: Saturday, 24th August 2019

My last visit to Ravensroost Woods was on the 27th July and was hugely disappointing, with just 14 birds caught from 7 species between 2 of us in over 5 hours in 200 metres of net.  So it was with a little trepidation that I set off to Ravensroost this morning at 5:30.  I was flying solo today – I think my team saw how bad the last session was and decided a lie-in was a better use of their time.  I set 3 net rides, 210 metres of net and crossed my fingers.  I am not obsessed by numbers, but when you have people travelling 30 to 40 miles to join you for a session you want them to feel it was worthwhile.

The catch started immediately with a little influx of Robins – in fact, the first 6 birds I took out were all Robins and then I caught no more.  By 9:00 I had already passed the previous total and by 11:30 it had doubled; so I decided, as it was getting quite hot, that I would take down. As so often happens: one of the small flocks of Blue and Long-tailed Tits that had been flitting around the tree tops all morning decided to come down to net level, and I extracted 6 Blue Tits and 4 Long-tailed Tits whilst trying to pack away.

The Long-tailed Tits were one of the highlights of the session: they are such lovely birds but since their numbers in the Braydon Forest plummeted, alongside those of Blue Tits, in 2016, catching them has become much less regular.  Interestingly, I was able to age all 4 of these Long-tailed Tits as juveniles.  Although they were close to finishing their post-fledging moult (whereupon they become indistinguishable from the adults) they all retained enough juvenile plumage to be able to do so confidently.  I ringed 2 juvenile Song Thrushes, taking this year’s total ringed to 24: which is the total we ringed in the whole of 2018.   There were 25 ringed in 2017 – but we have a way to go before reaching the 41 ringed in 2016.  They are almost certainly having a better year this year than the last two.  I also caught and ringed my ninth Marsh Tit of the year.  Ravensroost is a stronghold for this species, and catching juveniles every year is always welcome.

The list for the day was: Blue Tit 1[9]; Great Tit [2]; Coal Tit [1](1); Marsh Tit [1](1); Long-tailed Tit [4]; Wren 1[2]; Dunnock [1]; Robin [6]; Song Thrush [2]; Blackbird (1); Blackcap [5]; Chiffchaff [1].  Totals: 2 adults ringed from 2 species; 34 juveniles ringed from 11 species and 3 birds recaptured from 3 species, making 39 birds processed from 12 species.

All in all, a much better session in the wood than the previous one. It could have been better: I had a couple of birds bounce off the net rather than drop into a pocket and the Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers that were calling around the wood managed to stay in the tree tops and avoid the nets.