No Siskin, No Worries: Somerford Common, Wednesday, 13th October 2021

As the Ravensroost Wood Volunteers are going to be active in the wood every Wednesday from now until March, I decided that a change of venue was needed for today’s session. It’s not that I have a problem with the volunteers, or vice versa, it is just that the parking becomes an issue. Because they were joining me for the session, I gave Lucy and Miranda the choice of going for Meadow Pipit in Ravensroost Meadows or, having been told by Robin Griffiths, the Ravensroost Reserve volunteer warden, that there were flocks of Siskin at Somerford Common, trying for them. Lucy responded instantly, with a request for Siskin. So this morning we decamped to Somerford Common.

Although we agreed to meet at 7:00, I actually arrived on site at just after 6:30 and set the usual 18m + 12m line along the main path (net 3 below). My intention was to put on a lure for Redwing from daylight, for a couple of hours. Having caught a couple at Blakehill on Saturday, I was pretty certain there would be one or two at Somerford Common – the previous holder of my record for my earliest Autumn Redwing. I must have been still asleep: I put the lure on – only it wasn’t for Redwing! It took me over an hour to realise my mistake and change the record!

That was just as well, as it gave us a chance to set the other nets, because immediately I changed the lure to the “Latvian love song” we just had to sit back and watch as Redwing flocked into the trees around that part of the site. There was well over 100 of them, but they weren’t coming down, which we put down to them being able to see our ringing station. So, we moved the ringing table and the equipment under cover and waited. We didn’t have to wait long.

The net setup we used today, and the lures associated, was:

Nets 1, 4 and 5 had Siskin playing; net 2 had Lesser Redpoll playing and net 3 had Redwing (eventually). Throughout the morning we had small flocks of birds flying around, whether or not they were Siskin is anybody’s guess. All I know is that, despite overkill on the lure front, we didn’t catch a single one.

Round one delivered a single bird: our first bird out of the nets was actually a Coal Tit from net 2. This was followed in round 2 by a Goldcrest in the same net. Then I changed the lure to what it should have been and in round 3 we extracted our first Redwing of the session plus six Blue Tits and (and much to my surprise) seven Lesser Redpoll. I had hoped for one or two over the course of the morning, so this was delightful.

This matches the earliest catch date for Lesser Redpoll in the Braydon Forest, back in 2015, but is far and away the largest catch we have had there in October. The previous largest was just 4 on 30th October 2013.

Having resolved the lure issue, we then caught several Redwing in each round, until we closed up at 11:45, ending up with a decent haul of 18. Like the Lesser Redpoll, this is a significantly larger catch of this species than in any previous October. Other October catches of 12 (2015) and 13 (2016) birds came at the end of the month, not the middle.

The list for the day was: Treecreeper 1; Blue Tit [9]; Great Tit 1[2](1); Coal Tit [1](1); Robin [2](1); Redwing 5[13]; Goldcrest [2]; Lesser Redpoll 1[8]. Totals: 8 adults ringed from 4 species, 37 juveniles ringed from 7 species and 3 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 48 birds processed from 8 species.

After a thoroughly enjoyable session, we were off site by 12:45.