Jonny Cooper’s “Big Weekender”: 11th to 13th July 2020

With life becoming increasingly busy, and a house move on the horizon, I thought I would take advantage of the calm weather over the weekend to get some ringing in before life gets too hectic. Below are the accounts of the sessions I undertook:

Part 1: Meadow Farm:

The weekend kicked off with a session at the ever-reliable Meadow Farm. The thermometer in the car read a balmy 6 degrees when I arrived on site. The cool morning meant that the session took a little while to get going, but once it warmed up the birds started moving and I started catching in good numbers. The totals for the session were as follows:

Kingfisher 3(1), Blue Tit 9(8), Great Tit 6(10), Long-tailed Tit 2, Wren 3(1), Dunnock 2(1), Robin 1(2), Cetti’s Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1(1), Reed Warbler 5(2), Blackcap 10(4), Whitethroat 5(2), Chiffchaff 6, Chaffinch 2(1), Greenfinch 8, and Goldfinch 3. Overall, 67 new and 33 re-trap: a total 100 birds processed from 16 species.

A good session all round but catching the third Cetti’s Warbler for the site was excellent. The bird was a male in post-breeding moult. I suspect it is the same bird I have heard calling on site over the past few months. It will be interesting to see if any juveniles turn up over the next few sessions. Catching 7 Whitethroats was also good. Numbers on our sites elsewhere in north Wiltshire seem to be down this year. However, the four Kingfishers stole the show, with 3 being caught next to each other in one net.

Part 2: Bailey’s Farm:

On Sunday it was the turn of Bailey’s Farm for a session. I have a soft spot for this site as it was my first solo ringing site (not counting the back garden). Previously I have focussed ringing on site to the winter months and the associated flocks of farmland birds. However, this year I am also carrying out sessions in the summer, to look at the birds breeding on site. There was a constant flow of birds across the morning, with each round producing 5 or so birds. The catch can be seen below: 

Blue Tit 4(4), Great Tit 4, Long-tailed Tit 1, Wren 7, Dunnock (1), Robin (1), Blackcap 2, Whitethroat 2, Chiffchaff 5, Starling 1, House Sparrow 7, Chaffinch 1, Greenfinch 2, and Goldfinch 2. Overall, 36 new and 6 re-trap: a total 42 birds processed from 14 species.

There isn’t really a standout bird from this session. but what is excellent to see is the variety of species that are breeding in the local area. It is becoming apparent that the farming techniques used on the land are good for supporting a variety of birds across the year, with tall thick hedgerows for breeding and areas of fields left to go to seed to provide food for them.

Part 3: Langford Lakes:

Monday saw me undertake the second session of my project to monitor the birds using the reed bed at Langford Lakes. The morning started with an auspicious sign: as I got out my car on site I was treated to a Curlew calling as it flew over.

The morning was once again a little cool to start and with birds were moving in small numbers. After the first 3 rounds I had processed 27 birds. Not masses but nice.  At about 6:30 the sun came out and the session really started to kick off with the next two rounds producing 50 birds between them. The catch for the day was as follows:

Kingfisher 2, Blue Tit 2, Long-tailed Tit 9, Wren 2(1), Song Thrush 1, Cetti’s Warbler 2(2), Sedge Warbler 9, Reed Warbler 23(9), Blackcap 3, Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 9 and Reed Bunting 7. Overall, 73 new and 12 re-trap: a total 85 birds processed from 13 species.

The catch was considerably more diverse than the June session; the majority of the birds were juveniles.  It was apparent that local breeders were also being joined by birds that had started their southwards migration. This reed bed is an area of very high-quality habitat used by breeding birds and attracting those on migration. To catch four Cetti’s Warbler was excellent but the standout birds are once again the Kingfishers: a juvenile and an adult caught together in a net.

Overall a fantastic end to what was a brilliant, if very tiring, weekend. I will probably spend the next 3-5 working days asleep.