Whitethroats, at last: Wednesday, 24th June 2020

I have three Wildlife Trust sites where I regularly catch Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat: Blakehill Farm, Lower Moor Farm and Ravensroost Meadows. The Meadows have been out of bounds to me until this week, whilst the other two sites have produced no sign of Whitethroat (song or sighting) whilst I have run my sessions there and at Lower Moor Farm I retrapped a single Lesser Whitethroat on the 21st May, no others anywhere. So I wanted to do the Meadows to see whether this was an issue across the northern reserves or not. I was joined for the session by Andrew Bray.

We set nets as follows:

Our first round, at 6:00, delivered the first Lesser Whitethroat of the morning. This was followed by another in our third round, at 6:45, followed by our first Whitethroat at 7:15, on our fifth round, followed by another Lesser Whitethroat at 7:45. They then went quiet for a few rounds until at 8:30 we caught another 3 of each. That was it for the morning as far as those two species went.

The total list for the session was: Blue Tit 3; Great Tit 4; Wren 1; Dunnock 1; Robin 2; Blackbird 1(1); Blackcap 1; Whitethroat 4; Lesser Whitethroat 6; Chiffchaff 1; Willow Warbler 5; Bullfinch 1. Totals: 30 birds ringed from 12 species and one bird recaptured. 18 of the 31 birds were juveniles: Blue Tit 3; Great Tit 4; Dunnock 1; Robin 2; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 1; Lesser Whitethroat 2; Chiffchaff 1; Willow Warbler 3.

So, delighted not only to catch Lesser Whitethroat, but to include 2 juveniles in that was an absolute, unlooked for, bonus. Equally delighted at the 3 Willow Warbler juveniles: this is the earliest that I have caught them at this site.

There also seems to be a trend of catching groups of juvenile Great Tit. Like my 9 at Red Lodge on Saturday, the 4 caught in the Meadows were all caught on the same net round in the same net ride and it is entirely possible that they were brood mates (not only that but their biometrics were almost identical).

Alongside the bird ringing there was plenty of opportunity for watching the dragonflies and damselflies actively patrolling the ponds. Amongst the dragonfly species there yesterday were Emperor, 4-Spot Chaser, and Black-tailed Skimmer. The damselflies were mainly Common Blue.

There was also an abundance of Meadow Brown, Marbled White and Ringlet butterflies plus a few Skippers I didn’t get close enough to to identify. With the temperature getting high, and predicted to get much higher, we closed the nets at 10:30 and took down. Not a huge session but immensely satisfying to know that our Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats are on site.