Not our best month by any stretch – I blame the weather. For example, I scheduled 11 sessions for December and managed to carry out just 6. The numbers were good and who knows what would have happened if we had managed to fulfil them all. On top of that, three of my main winter sites were out of bounds due to the outbreak of avian flu at Castle Eaton, as they fell within the 10km surveillance zone. Anyway, the results were:
Not many highlights but Jonny’s Cetti’s Warbler at Langford Lakes was certainly one: the only December capture of this species since 2007. Alongside that, the 10 Chiffchaffs is notable. The catch was split between Jonny’s sites at Sutton Benger (7) and Langford Lakes (3).
My highlight was the 26 Lesser Redpoll caught in Webb’s Wood. The catch of 20 on the 5th December is our largest capture since the great schism (1st January 2013 when the North Wilts Group was formed and split the West Wilts Group into its current structure). Prior to this December most catches in Webb’s Wood were of single birds, with a couple of threes and a four. I wonder if it is the impact of the thinning operations last winter?
Mind, it is still not a patch on the extraordinary catch we had in Ravensroost Wood on the 4th December 2011 (a date etched in my mind for many reasons) when we caught and ringed 43 of the blighters.
Redwing numbers were well down and that seems to have been a general reduction across all sites, even allowing for the fewer sessions. One thing, January is likely to be a big improvement on last year, as a full lockdown does not look likely.