Blakehill Farm: Wednesday, 27th May 2020

This is the second site that the Wildlife Trust have allowed me to recommence ringing on. It is restricted to the field behind the Whitworth Building:

Normally I would only set nets 4,5 and 6, with other nets set elsewhere outside of this field. For today, I tried three new net rides to see what they might develop. In fact, nets 1, 2, 5 and 6 all caught and nets 3 and 4 stayed resolutely empty.

It was a reasonable session with a decent variety of birds: Woodpigeon 1; Magpie 2; Great Tit (1); Dunnock 2(1); Robin 6; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 1; Chiffchaff 2; Goldfinch 1; House Sparrow 2. Totals: 18 birds ringed from 9 species and 2 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 20 birds processed from 10 species.

The Magpies were both caught in net 1: and a third managed to get out before I could get to it. I don’t know why it is, but this year Woodpigeons seem to be diving into mist nets quite regularly. This is the sixth caught this year and only one of them has wandered into a Potter trap. It was caught in net 4, but not flying in from the field, but somehow dropping in from the tree behind the net.

The most surprising catch of the day was a newly fledged Goldfinch. Its beak was covered by some sort of solid resin. I tried to gently remove it, but it was absolutely solid. The bird in the photograph looks a bit odd as a result:

This is a very early record for a Goldfinch. The BTO’s Nest Record Scheme states that the mean laying date for first clutches for Goldfinch is the 25th May, with a spread from the 26th April to 19th July. As the incubation period is 13 to 15 days, and the subsequent period to fledging 14 to 17 days, this bird must be pushing that earliest first clutch date very close.

As well as my standard ringing activity, I checked the two Jackdaw nests adjacent to the field I was working in. I am not a big nest finder: I generally restrict my nest checking to my garden and to box / hole-based species, particularly Barn Owls, which I have a schedule 1 licence for. Whilst I do know how to approach a nest without leaving clues to its location, I am still a bit reticent about doing so. Jackdaws often take over Barn or Tawny Owl boxes. In this case they have taken over a Bug Hotel. Last year they had 3 naked pulli when I first checked on them. I gave it two weeks before returning to ring them, only to find that the nest was completely empty. They had almost certainly been predated: either Carrion Crow or, possibly, Stoat, as I have seen one of those wee beasties running around in the area where the nests are situated. This year there are two broods: both had 2 live nestlings, one of them also had a dead youngster. The parents had moved it out of the nest onto the edge of the box, so I completed the housekeeping for them. It was considerably smaller and less well-developed than its nest mates.

As the morning got hotter, so the activity declined, and I decided to take down the nets, packed up and was away by 12:15.