Blakehill Farm: Wednesday, 17th November 2021

Yesterday I went over to Blakehill Farm mid-morning to do a bit of ride maintenance. I was greeted by the sight of several hundred Redwing and Fieldfare flying around the plateau area. With very light winds forecast for today I thought to take advantage of that and see what was catchable.

The only nets that I planned to set were 7 x 18m along the perimeter hedgerow and the Meadow Pipit triangle. Rosie did her usual of turning up to help set the nets and then having to go to work after ringing a single bird ( a Wren). I was also joined for the session by Miranda and her son Elliot. We met at 7:00 and the nets were open by 8:30 (it is hard work bashing holes into an asphalt track that is pretending to be a grass verge, particularly as the dislodged stones fall back in as you extract the hole maker!).

We put lures for Redwing and Linnet along the perimeter track and the Meadow Pipit lure in the triangle. Unfortunately, only the Redwing lure worked. To be fair to the Mipit triangle, an unforecast breeze did spring up, and very quickly the net pockets were blown out. Birds were flying into the net and flying straight out again. As usual, several used the poles and the top line as perching places. For a few minutes we had a Kestrel using one of the poles as a hunting perch. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch a single bird in the net.

Fortunately for our hedgerow nets, the direction of the breeze meant that the hedgerow itself acted as a windbreak, and it didn’t affect those nets at all. As previously mentioned, the first bird out of the nets was a Wren, but after that the bulk of the catch was Redwing.

As we were processing a few birds at the ringing station, we noticed a small flock of Long-tailed Tits fly across the gateway to the plateau and into the hedgerow where our nets were set. Sure enough on the next round we extracted eight Long-tailed Tits!

The list for the day was: Blue Tit 6; Great Tit 1(1); Long-tailed Tit 4(4); Wren 1; Dunnock (1); Robin 2; Redwing 29; Blackbird (1).

It was a good catch of Redwing. As usual, the vast bulk were juveniles, with only two adults in the mix.

Juvenile Redwing: note the diagnostic white fringing on the tertials, which resemble the logo of a certain sports clothing / footwear company

The only downside to the hedgerow windbreak was that by the time we were ready to pack up the nets were full of leaves! I love autumn! We closed the nets at 11:30 and left site, after emptying as many of the leaves as possible whilst taking down, just before 13:00! A clear indication of just how many leaves we removed: the tragic thing being how many more there are to remove!