Lower Moor Farm & Care Farm Users: Wednesday 22nd July 2020

As the weekend weather is looking more than a bit unsettled, I decided to get in an extra session at Lower Moor Farm this week. My nets are in the wildlife refuge, away from the public, so I knew that I would not have any of the issues faced yesterday at Ravensroost Wood.

I used the same 6 net setup I have been using for the last couple of sessions, and it was another reasonable catch, with good variety. The highlight of my session was my first juvenile Cetti’s Warbler of the year. It has been a little frustrating: knowing there are 8 territories within my usual ringing site, but only 2 in the current restricted area. (Not a complaint, I am grateful to be able to get out and on site at all.) I have had a few (5) recaptures this year but all adults.

Let me mention it before anyone else moans to the BTO and they tell me to take it down: the bird was fine before, during and after the processing and the few seconds it took to take the photo. It was a bright sunny day and I have no doubt it was screwing up its eye a bit against the sun, as it was shining over my shoulder.

The catch for the day was: Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 2; Wren 5; Dunnock 2; Robin 4; Blackbird 1; Garden Warbler 2; Lesser Whitethroat 1(1); Cetti’s Warbler 1(1); Blackcap 7(1); Chiffchaff 1(1); Willow Warbler 1. Totals: 28 birds ringed from 12 species and 4 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 32 birds processed from 12 species. All birds were this year’s birds except for the retrapped Blackcap and Cetti’s Warbler, one of the Chiffchaffs, both Garden Warblers and the Willow Warbler.

One of the key elements I have been focussing on this is post-breeding moult in adult birds. I am looking to capture the growth and replacement stages in the primary, secondary, tail and alula feathers. Primary feathers are moulted from the inside out, secondaries from the outside in, the tail from the inside out and the alula any which way it pleases. Sometimes the moult is not as sequential as expected. This was the case with one of the Garden Warblers:

The outer primary is at stage 4, i.e. nearly full grown, the next inner primary is an old feather, carried over from the wintering ground moult, the next one in is again at stage 4 and the remaining 7 primaries are at stage 5, fully grown new feathers.

I set up my ringing station just outside of the wildlife refuge. Now that the Trust have reopened the facilities at the site, the Care Farm is back in operation. I was asked if I could show the children some birds. It is something I really enjoy, even socially distanced. They are so interested and ask good questions. The downside of social distancing: I cannot teach them how to safely handle and release the birds. The only sad event of the morning: I had just finished packing my nets away when one of the Care Farm staff came through with another little lad. He was very upset that there were no more birds to see.