This session was one that I had to be careful about. There is always the possibility of a 100 bird catch and, as I was starting out solo, I was mindful of not overdoing the amount of net. My plan was 3 x 18m nets along one ride, plus 3 nets surrounding the feeding station. In the event, I got the ride net set and just one by the feeding station, before the birds started dropping in.
Starting out solo because I was being joined by Steph, Lillie and baby Beatrice later in the morning. I was also being joined by Lara and Andrew Dawson who were interested to find out about bird ringing. They arrived at just gone 8:00, with Steph and company arriving about half-an-hour later. Steph at work at the moment is just brilliant to watch. I don’t know how long her arms are but baby Beatrice is strapped to her front in a baby carrier, looking outwards, and yet Steph happily extracts birds from the net keeping Beatrice far enough away not to interfere with the net. To quote the late, great, David Coleman “Quite remarkable!”.
As was expected, the catch was very heavily populated with Blue Tits. Blue Tits are so common in the catch during the winter that one can become a bit blasé about them. However, when entering up the data into the on-line system I got notification that one of them was ringed as a nestling last year. It doesn’t tell me where, but I will get a report in the next couple of days. Another of them was ringed as a juvenile in my Purton garden last summer, about 6km away. What you cannot get away from is just how irritating the constant pecking can be when you are extracting large numbers of them: they are the most feisty small birds in the woods!
The list for the session was: Nuthatch (2); Jay 1; Blue Tit 21(18); Great Tit 8(4); Coal Tit 2; Marsh Tit 1(1); Wren (1); Robin 1; Blackbird 1; Goldcrest (1); Chaffinch 3; Bullfinch 2. Totals: 40 birds ringed from 9 species and 27 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 67 birds processed from 12 species.
Our third new Marsh Tit of the month, at the third different site, was a highlight. Lillie is being gently introduced to extracting and her highlight of the session was extracting, and then processing, her first Nuthatch We will soon introduce her to the delights of extracting Blue Tits (depending upon how sadistic I feel)!
I extracted my first Jay of the year. It was a delightful bird: well behaved, didn’t try to bite me (Blue Tits are irritating, Jays hurt and draw blood) and was happy to hold on to a pencil whilst I ringed and measured it. Giving it a pencil to hold stops them clawing away at your hands – their secondary weapon!
Lara and Andrew enjoyed the session: Andrew did a great job of tidying up my net rides and Lara made herself very useful holding on to and handing out bird bags for Steph and myself whilst we were extracting.
On the whole it was a very enjoyable session with one blemish: as Steph was walking down to join us, she was ambushed by two dogs: a greyhound and a black lab, that came bounding down the path and jumped up at her and Beatrice! When are these arrogant dog owners going to learn some manners and responsibility? If they want their dogs off the lead Somerford Common is 2 minutes away from the nature reserve and, if they cannot control them, then they should definitely keep them on a short lead wherever they are. It is never the fault of the dogs, always the fault of the owners.