The Firs: Sunday, 6th September 2020

A solo session at the Firs this morning. Not a looking for migrants session: a standard “What is still about?” sort of session. I had a bit of a lie-in, on site for 6:00. It is always handy when you know you will just be setting 7 x 18m nets in a long straight line, split into a set of 3 and a set of 4 and the birds won’t have started moving by the time you have finished. That proved to be the case, with the first birds not hitting the nets until 7:30.

The catch started well, with a couple of male Nuthatch being the first 2 birds out of the net. A little later I retrapped an adult male Great Spotted Woodpecker who, true to form, screeched the place down and then, on the penultimate round, I extracted a juvenile Treecreeper. It is nice to get the full set of the common woodland tree trunk specialists.

About 9:00 I ringed a juvenile Marsh Tit. This is the fourteenth of the year and, given that I am still not accessing Ravensroost Wood, my most reliable site for the species, very encouraging. Hopefully we will be back in Ravensroost Wood soon and end up with a record year for the species.

The list for the day was: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Nuthatch 2; Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 8; Great Tit 8(3); Marsh Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit (1); Robin 3(2); Blackcap 3(1); Chiffchaff 2. Totals: 28 birds ringed from 8 species and 8 birds retrapped from 5 species, making 36 birds processed from 10 species.

In amongst the Great Tit catch were two individuals who were not having the best time of it. One poor youngster had 20 ticks, of varying sizes, on its head. That sort of tick burden cannot be good for a young bird. The BTO do not have hard and fast rules on what you should do, and it is quite a bone of contention amongst ringers as to whether you should leave them in place or remove them. Some ringers assert that it is a veterinary procedure and needs a licence. However, I have scoured the DEFRA website and they say absolutely nothing about ticks and wildlife or removal.

The BTO’s advice is that you should only attempt removal if you are competent to do so. Having been a pig stockman in a past life, pigs that were kept in pasture for much of their lives, I have removed ticks from much larger livestock and I see no reason to leave a small bird infested with ticks. I have a pair of needle forceps, which are perfect for tick removal, and I do.

The other poor bird was the first I have seen suffering from avian pox for several years.

The one good thing I have found about this disease is that birds can and do recover. I t looks bad but hopefully it will recover.