Siskin Surprise: Ravensroost Meadows, Wednesday, 16th September 2020

I really must stop with the cheesy headlines. Well, when the birds stop writing them for me, I will do so.

This morning I was at the meadow pond area within the Ravensroost complex hoping for a chance to try out the new House Martin lure that worked so well at New Zealand Farm on Monday. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single Hirundine all morning. I do not think that they have all gone through, it was just one of those troughs in the migratory flow.

For the first time since lockdown, I was joined by Tony Marsh this morning. I think that I got that a bit wrong: I agreed for him to arrive at 8:30, after the nets were set up, and he had to leave at noon, just before I started taking the nets down! That’s not why you have trainees: they are there to do the work while you relax! I set 3 x 9m; 2 x 12m and 3 x 18m nets: not a huge set up but it worked well until the breeze got up at 11:30 and I had to shut the nets.

It was a good session, with one real bonus: our first ever Siskin for this site.

We have had a few in the woodland next door but this is our earliest autumnal catch of them in the Braydon Forest. Apart from one at Somerford Common in November 2013, all of our other catches in the Forest have been in the February to March period.

The catch had the staple of our migratory birds: mainly Blackcap and Chiffchaff but was completely missing our usual resident staples: no Blue or Great Tits. The list for the day was: Treecreeper 1; Wren 2; Dunnock 5; Meadow Pipit 1; Robin 4; Blackbird 2; Blackcap 10; Chiffchaff 8; Willow Warbler 1; Siskin 4.

38 birds ringed from 10 species.

The first bird I took out of the net was a juvenile Blackbird undergoing a very scary head moult:

Whilst he is terribly bald, you can see the black feather tufts just beginning to poke through. Definitely a he: the tail was already black. I am sure he will soon look resplendent in his new plumage.

It was nice to catch another Meadow Pipit at the site. It is only the fifth for the meadow pond area, and our first since we had two in September 2017.