First Winter Visitors: Somerford Common, Saturday, 17th October 2020

This week there has been lots of sightings of Redwing around the area. On Thursday at Ravensroost we tried luring for them but with no sign of them. Today we were at Somerford Common looking to try again. I was joined by Alice and David for the morning and I decided to keep it simple. We set just 6 nets:

We set the track ride up first and put on a lure for Redwing whilst we set up the other nets. Part way through I went back to check on the nets and took out 2 Wrens and our first Redwing of this autumn / winter.

10 minutes later I sent David back to check again: another Redwing plus a Long-tailed Tit, some Blue Tits and Goldcrests plus a new Marsh Tit.

The woodland nets had another lure for Redwing, Lesser Redpoll and Marsh Tit (which usually brings in lots of other titmice as well). The woodland nets were very quiet: first round producing a solitary Goldcrest. That was it in there for the next couple of rounds and then I opted to go and check them whilst Alice and David took a few birds out of the other nets. I was delighted to find a couple of Lesser Redpoll in the net immediately adjacent to the lure:

That was pretty much it for those nets. We did catch another Lesser Redpoll, a Great Tit and a Wren but nothing else. No doubt that will change significantly once I set up the feeding station there next month!

Until about 10:30 we had quite a few Redwing flying around the site, sitting in the big old oak tree adjacent to our net ride but, in the main, avoiding the net. That said, we were happy with what we caught. At 10:30 I changed the lure from Redwing to Goldcrest. I am always mindful of not luring Goldcrest until later in the morning, and only if the weather is warm enough. I am pleased to say that all bar one of the Goldcrest caught this morning weighed in at more than 5g, with one actually scaling at 6g. These are good weights for Goldcrest in the Braydon Forest.

The list for the morning was: Blue Tit 3(1); Great Tit (1); Marsh Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 1; Wren 3(2); Redwing 5; Goldcrest 8(4); Lesser Redpoll 3; Bullfinch 1. Totals: 25 birds ringed from 8 species; 8 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 33 birds processed from 9 species.

It was a quiet and very relaxed morning and, despite not being inundated with birds, I have to admit, very enjoyable. We were accompanied all morning by a Robin (unringed) who spent the entire time hopping or flitting around our ringing station. When we arrived we saw that someone had spread some bird food on the granite blocks that Forestry England have used to replace the vandalised gateways, that they got fed up with replacing, and are pretty well convinced it had been done to benefit this Robin.

One of the beauties of not setting up masses of net is that taking down is a quick and easy task. The birds stopped moving by 11:00, we gave it another 30 minutes and started to take down. As the odd Goldcrest was still coming to the lure we left the ride on the path to last. I did have an ulterior motive: I only had 4 AA size rings left on that particular ring string and I wanted to catch enough to finish it off. By the time we had the woodland nets down, three Goldcrest had obligingly dropped into the remaining net ride. We processed them, resigned to having one left on the string. At midday David’s dad turned up to take him home. Almost immediately after he left, a very helpful Goldcrest flew into the net so we could tidy up that particular ring string. We closed those nets and took them down and were away from site by 12:30.