My last three sessions at Lower Moor Farm have delivered 40 to 50 birds per session, so I was looking forward to a decent haul this morning. Arriving on site at 6:30 I set up my two usual net sets: 2 x 18m along the stream side and 3 x 18m along the lakeside. There is plenty of evidence of their activity around the site but this is only the second time I have seen one here.
As I was setting up the lakeside net ride I heard some very obvious and very loud tail slapping. Just down from me, close in to the side of Mallard Lake, was a Beaver, which had clearly decided I was a predator. It swam off and disappeared behind the Cormorant roost island.
With our current mini-obsession with Meadow Pipits, I set a Pipit triangle at the end of the lakeside net ride and put the lure on. The only previous time I had caught Meadow Pipits at Lower Moor Farm was at this time in 2014 when I caught 29. Unfortunately, the field where I caught them is currently playing host to a number of Belted Galloways and also has a public footpath across it and, as I have made clear, I am avoiding setting nets in public areas for the foreseeable future and will certainly not do so when working solo. It was not particularly productive. Over the course of the morning I saw just 3 Meadow Pipits and caught 1. You could call it a 33.33% success rate, which I would be very happy with if there were 300 Meadow Pipits flying around.
It was symptomatic of the whole session and, instead of the hoped for 40+ birds, I caught the princely total of 8 birds from 7 species. These were: Treecreeper (1); Blue Tit (1); Great Tit 1; Meadow Pipit 1; Robin (1); Blackbird 1; Blackcap 2.
I am sure that the issue was the cold! The north wind shall blow and we didn’t have snow because that would have warmed it up! It finally started to warm up at 10:00 but one of the rides stayed in shade and cold all morning. There were no insects flying around until about 10:30.
Not to say it wasn’t a very pleasant morning. Lots of people stopped by to see what was going on and came by for a chat. This included one of the lecturers in ecology and environmental studies from Oxford-Brookes University. He has spent some time with Matt Prior on his Tree Sparrow project and we will be arranging some sessions for him to bring students along to once life returns to normal.