A Red(poll) Letter Day: Ravensroost Wood, Thursday, 12th November 2020

Taking advantage of what is forecast to be the last dry day before next week, I decided on a session at Ravensroost Wood. My plus one for the day, as per government guidelines, was Andrew Bray. One of the nice things about woodland ringing is that, unless you are targeting owls, excessively early starts are not necessary. Andrew and I met at 7:00 and erected 3 sets of 2 x 18m nets in the same positions as on my last visit to Ravensroost.

Having set up the nets I drove the car up to the Shooter’s Hut (not that anybody has shot in this wood (at least, not legally) since the Wildlife Trust purchased it) as it is the only place where there is room to turn the car round and drive back to the ringing station. As I drove off a small flock of Lesser Redpoll took flight from a Hazel bush in the coppiced area to my left (coupe T1 for those who know the map). As a result, we put on lures for Lesser Redpoll, as well as Siskin and Redwing, just in case.

It was a slow start. The first bird to hit the nets was a female Chaffinch at 8:15. Thereafter we caught the odd bird until 9:20 when we found a flock of 12 Lesser Redpoll in the nets adjacent to that lure. Over the course of the rest of the session we caught another 5 – much to the delight of several groups of passers by who got to have a socially distanced close up view of these lovely birds.

The catch for the session was: Blue Tit (3); Great Tit 1(1); Wren 2(1); Robin (2); Redwing 4; Blackbird 1; Chiffchaff 1; Goldcrest 4(2); Chaffinch 2; Lesser Redpoll 17. Totals: 32 birds ringed from 8 species and 9 birds retrapped from 5 species, making 41 birds processed from 10 species.

The Lesser Redpoll catch was a great surprise and the best catch of this species that I have had at Ravensroost since I took over the site in October 2012.

Today’s was a decent and varied catch, even if we didn’t manage to catch some of the standard woodland species we might normally expect to catch there (Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Song Thrush). I expect that, once I set up the supplementary feeding station, we will have plenty of opportunity to process them as well.

Whilst we were sat at the ringing station we were joined by a Robin, whose territory we had clearly set up in. He spent the morning flitting around the trees and bushes within a few feet of us. As well as that, there were a number of Goldcrests foraging in the trees and bushes around us. Not having masses of birds at any one time gave us ample opportunity to watch their antics. I love the way they can hover briefly as they pick off an insect from the underside of a leaf.

I was looking along the path when a Robin suddenly shot up into the air, wings flapping and legs pushed forward. The next thing there was another: they were having a vigorous territorial dispute. Our national bird is a pretty confrontational character with others of its species. They kept it up for a good two minutes before they went off, one chasing the other into the bushes.

At 12:15 the breeze picked up and we took down and were away from site just after 13:00, very satisfied with an extremely relaxed and pleasant session.