Webb’s Wood: Wednesday, 6th October 2021

My last trip to Webb’s Wood was at the end of July and to say it was disappointing would be an understatement: 7 birds from 4 species in 4 hours is a poor return for our efforts. Whether this was a hangover from the extensive thinning operations in the wood over the winter or not I don’t know. Red Lodge had a similar, though not so drastic, fall off after its extensive thinning operation. However, as Red Lodge this time was put out of commission by the fly-tippers, as reported yesterday, and it has been a long while since I have been to Webb’s Wood, I decided to give it another go.

I was joined once again by Rosie, turning up to help setup, and then leaving to go to work before getting a chance to ring a single bird. Lucy is back from her travels for a month, before heading off to the Ascension Islands for the next year. I am not sure that my sites can compete with Spurn, Lundy and the Ascensions but we do our best!

Our ringing station is a long way away from the public car park, a distance of about 1.3km away, so we see few people during a session. The nets were pretty much set as we did during the July session, except for the net line shown in yellow. The tree line has expanded out to the point that I would have had to drill holes in the hardcore track to insert my poles.

The difference this time was, being outside of the breeding season, I could use lures. I hedged my bets: Blackcap, in case there were any stragglers hanging about; Lesser Redpoll and Siskin, just in case any of them have arrived yet; Goldcrest, because they always respond if they are about (plus a cheeky Firecrest, just in case) and finally, Marsh Tit. Goldcrest worked well and Marsh Tit worked once and I caught only my eighth ringed so far this year:

We had a 7:00 start and the nets were all open just after 8:00 and we were soon busy. The first round delivered 13 birds, mainly Blue Tits. A round at 9:45 produced 10 birds, mainly Goldcrest, and things were small but regular until we got to 11:15, when we had a catch of 20 birds, primarily Great Tits.

Given how few we have caught this year, it is pleasing to see both Blue and Great Tits in the catch in decent numbers. However, one of the Great Tits we caught is suffering from avian pox:

This is the first time for several years that I have had a poxed bird in my catch. I ringed it regardless. Previously I have ringed a Great Tit which, upon recapture, had developed avian but, when recaptured a year or so later, showed a few scars from the poxes but was otherwise fit and healthy. Hopefully we will recapture this bird in the future, and see it without the swelling.

The catch today was: Blue Tit 3[16](1); Great Tit 2[11](1); Coal Tit [5](1); Marsh Tit [1]; Long-tailed Tit (1); Wren 1; Robin [1](1); Goldcrest [11](1). Totals: 6 adults ringed from 3 species, 45 juveniles ringed from 6 species and 6 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 57 birds processed from 8 species.

The breeze got up at just before midday, so we shut the nets, extracting a few additional birds as we went, and took down and were off site by 13:00. Lucy has developed a new skill since she has been working at Spurn and on Lundy: taking in nets. It really does speed up the process when there are two of you doing it.