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; Great Tit ; Coal Tit (1); Marsh Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit ; Wren 1; Dunnock ; Robin ; Song Thrush ; Blackbird (1); Blackcap ; Chiffchaff . 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.