Somerford Common: Thursday, 6th February 2019

After a thoroughly disappointing session at Blakehill Farm on Wednesday: birds everywhere, just not in our nets, Jonny and I set up at Somerford Common on Thursday morning hoping for better luck.

As for Wednesday, I felt for Ellie, Alice and Steph: all turning out for a mere 16 birds!  The whole place was waterlogged and very smelly! Nevertheless, there was a lot of birdsong in the hedgerow alongside where we set the nets, but the birds just never hit the nets. We had the grand total of Blue Tit 5(1); Long-tailed Tit 1; Wren 3; Dunnock 1; Robin 2(1); Blackbird 1; Goldcrest 1. Totals: 14 birds ringed from 7 species and 2 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 16 birds processed from 7 species.

So to Thursday: cold, clear and frosty. Just 4 x 18m nets set around the feeding station.  Having topped up the feeders on Wednesday lunchtime and the birds having made good inroads by the time we turned up, I was hopeful.  We heard a few Lesser Redpoll flying around and so we set a lure for them.  I would love to say it worked tremendously well, but we only caught the one!  Mind, it clearly didn’t learn the lesson, as we did catch it again later.  Still, it is our first of the year and hopefully we will get a few more in the next 6 weeks.

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It was a super session. Yes, we had the usual preponderance of Blue and Great Tits, but we don’t often get 13 species in our winter woodland sessions.  There were plenty of highlights.  When I was topping up the feeders the local Jays were at their noisiest best: dashing around the woods calling raucously, as they are wont to do.  We don’t catch that many, so to get two in one session was a real bonus.  Jonny suffered for his art: his Jay took a big liking to one of his fingers, whereas mine was delightfully placid.

The tale of the Great Spotted Woodpeckers was rather different: we caught 2 of them, both of which Jonny processed, but we extracted one each. His squawked the house down, as is par for the course with this species.  Mine was much quieter – because it was busy drumming on my hand.  The middle finger of my right hand looks as if it has been attacked by a sewing machine.

Perhaps most surprising was our catch of 5 Nuthatches.  We do manage to get multiples but 5 is definitely above the norm.  Six Chaffinches was also a good haul.  The whole catch was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 2; Nuthatch 4(1); Jay 2; Blue Tit 6(15); Great Tit 11(8); Coal Tit 1; Marsh Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit 1; Robin 1(1); Goldfinch 1; Chaffinch 5(1); Goldfinch 1; Lesser Redpoll 1. Totals: 36 birds ringed from 12 species and 27 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 63 birds processed from 13 species.