A Grey Day In Webb’s Wood: Saturday, 6th November 2021

Two types of greyness affected our session at Webb’s Wood. To start with, the three weather apps that I use (Meteo, Met Office and xcweather) all forecast a dry morning, with the wind getting up towards midday. When I stepped out of the house into a fine spray of mizzle, I was concerned. As Rosie was joining me for the session, and would be able to stay for the entire time, I was reluctant to call it off. I also had David back after a few weeks away and Anna coming a fair distance to join me, so I decided that we would see how it went. The mizzle was light enough for us to set up and go for it. There were patches of dry weather but it did not fully arrive until we started to take down and it stayed grey all morning. However, the mizzle never breached that barrier where it would have been inappropriate to continue.

I had set up a feeding station on Tuesday, and the fact that the peanuts had disappeared but the seed mix had been ignored let me know what sort of morning we were in for. It was a decent session for the first couple of hours, with 25 birds processed between 7:45 and 8:55. We then only caught one bird in the next hour and twenty minutes. As I am suffering with a painful, and sleep-depriving, neck problem, getting cold and miserable with no birds was more than I was prepared to put up with. I made the fateful statement: “If there are no birds in the next round we will pack up, go home and get warm”. Next round we extracted 27 birds.

That is where grey became interesting. In all of my ringing in the Braydon Forest my team has never caught one of these:

Juvenile Grey Wagtail, photo by Anna Cooper

I have processed a good number as a trainee, but none of my sites regularly plays host to them. Anna extracted this beauty from one of the nets adjacent to the feeding station which, in turn, is nowhere adjacent to a water source: just a few puddles. Anna has now processed her first Grey Wagtail.

The list for the session was as follows: Great Spotted Woodpecker (1); Blue Tit 16(7); Great Tit 8(5); Long-tailed Tit 10; Wren 1; Grey Wagtail 1; Redwing 4; Goldcrest 12. Totals: 52 birds ringed from 7 species and 13 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 65 birds processed from 8 species.

We are getting good numbers of Goldcrest in the Forest at the moment. Interestingly, our last session at Webb’s Wood was on the 6th October and we caught 12 Goldcrest, exactly the same as we had today. I had better schedule a session for the 6th December!

After our bumper round at 10:25 the numbers fell away again for the next two rounds, and we decided to pack up and head home.

This year has been a cracking year for fungi all over my local area. I found this in the feeding station:

Yellow Stag’s Horn Fungus: Calocera viscosa

I might have a look to see if I can identify the lichen that is just to the left of the fungus.

We were off site just after midday after a surprisingly satisfactory session, despite the weather.