After Saturday’s complete washout, I moved the session at Somerford Common to Sunday, knowing that it would be dry first thing, but also that the session would be curtailed by strong winds later in the morning. I decided that, as we weren’t setting lots of net, that a 7:00 start would suffice, much to everyone’s delight.
I say everyone because I was joined by Ellie, David, Rosie and Anna. Unfortunately, once again Rosie came along and helped get setup and then had to go off to work: apple picking at one of the Wildlife Trust’s orchards that had to be postponed from Saturday because of the torrential rain. One day she will get to benefit from her labours with the ringing team!
I will be setting up feeding stations in the next couple of weeks, as well as seeing the first of our winter visitors arrive. This site is good for Redwing and our most regular site for Lesser Redpoll and Siskin. We did set one net in a stand of birch trees, where the latter two species are usually encountered, but the MP3 player that the lure was on decided to throw a wobbler and not work. Plenty of charge, but the play button needed continuous holding down for it to work properly. Nobody was interested in sitting there just holding it down.
The early signs were all too typical of recent times in my woodland sites: few early birds around. The session was rescued by a decent tit-flock catch at 10:00, comprising eight Long-Tailed Tits and five Blue Tits. Over the course of the morning we caught: Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit 4(1); Great Tit (1); Coal Tit 2; Long-tailed Tit 8; Wren (1); Robin 3; Blackcap 1; Goldcrest 1(1). Totals: 20 birds ringed from 7 species and 4 birds retrapped from 4 species, making 24 birds processed from 9 species.
The BTO are looking to set up a new winter monitoring project, along the lines of the Constant Effort Site programme they run in the breeding season. This involves carrying out eight sessions, approximately every two weeks, between the beginning of November and the end of February, with nets set in the same positions, and left open for the same length of time, on each occasion. Over the years this will show fluctuations in the birds using the site knowing that the numbers are not affected by putting the nets in different places and varying the length of the session. Unlike CES, however, this will allow supplementary feeding during the period of study. I have contacted Forestry England to make sure that they have no objection to the planned use of the site in this study. They are generally very supportive of my efforts, so I am hoping for a positive outcome.