West Wilts Ringing Group: October 2020 Results

For a month so seriously affected by the weather, we didn’t do badly, with our second best October. I only managed to get one session in between the 19th and the 31st of the month, in between rainstorms, on the 28th, and it would have been better if the crew had stayed at home: only 10 birds in Red Lodge at a time when last year we processed 158 individuals in two sessions: one at the beginning and one at the end of the month.  Despite that the group managed to process over 1,000 birds in October:

It is pretty clear where the reductions are, compared with last year: Blue, Great, Coal, Marsh and Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Treecreeper, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow and Greenfinch numbers all down significantly, Goldcrest numbers also depressed.  

On the plus side, the Meadow Pipit catch was phenomenal.  Could the two situations be related?  Possibly not, as the vast bulk (about 290) of them were caught at Jonny’s sites at Bailey’s and Meadow Farms, where last year he had the majority of the Greenfinch catch. Similarly, the vast bulk of last year’s Yellowhammer catch was in 4 sessions on Salisbury Plain and all of them this year were caught in 3 sessions at the same place, so the numbers are definitely down.

I compared the number of woodland sessions this October with what I did last year, as I thought that might have some bearing on it, but I did 6 last October and 6 this.  However, last year I processed 80 more Blue Tits in those same 6 sessions as I did this.  One bonus for me was that the Wildlife Trust have allowed me to work in Ravensroost Woods again and to put up No Entry signs at either end of my net rides to keep the general public out, and avoid any potential repeat of the issues in July. This I did on the 15th October and had a good 45 bird catch in just 4 nets.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though we will be able to test out the missing resident species for the next month or so, with the imminent reinstatement of lockdown.  That said, with the government saying that outdoor leisure activities will be allowed on a 1 + 1 basis, it will be interesting to see what the BTO guidance will be, and how the various landowners interpret that.