At last! I have been trying to get back to Ravensroost Wood for a while but it kept getting rained off. Originally this session was scheduled for Saturday but, yet again, it rained nearly all day. At least this time it had been forecast so I didn’t get up early for no reward.
I topped up the feeders on Tuesday, when I did the other sites, and checked on Friday. The feeders were empty, so I topped them up again. This morning the peanut feeders were empty and the big multi-seed feeder was half empty, so we topped up again and girded our loins for a busy session. I was joined for the session by Anna (with her Mum, who came along to see what it is all about), Samuel and Mum Claire plus new arrival Rob: a professional ecologist who wants to expand his skill sets. Rosie also came along and did her usual trick: helping us set up, and then helping extract the first round before disappearing off to set up her morning volunteer group activity (hedge-laying since you ask).
The session was every bit as busy as I feared. It was Blue Tit heavy, and they were doing their best to make life difficult: double-pocketing, spinning and, in a couple of cases, fighting each other. We separated those combatants first and very quickly. They are so feisty, and their beaks so sharp, it is a good job they aren’t bigger!
The first round was very busy with Anna, Rosie and me extracting 22 birds, mainly Blue Tits. Rosie then had to leave. The next round produced 13 birds, again, more Blue Tits. Our last round proper, at 11:15, produced another 30 birds and we closed the nets as we emptied them. Quite remarkably, at 12:30, after we had processed those birds and went to take down, we found another two birds had blundered into the closed nets: a Great Tit and (hallelujah) a Lesser Redpoll, our only one of the session.
The session was notable for two Dunnocks. These are the first two caught in the wood since April 2019. In addition, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers: a male ringed in December 2019 and two adult females that we ringed today were a good catch. Unfortunately, we had some diseased Chaffinches in the nets. Two females with developing Fringilla papillomavirus and a male with the same on its left leg only. i.e. the one without the ring. This bird, S055209, was ringed in April 2016, so it has already had a good long life. According to the BTO Bird Facts database, the typical life span of a Chaffinch is 3 years, but the oldest recorded is over 13 years from date of ringing. Its FPV was a newly acquired infection, just showing the start of the warty excrescences. There were, however, two perfectly healthy first winter females that we could ring.
The list for today was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 2(1); Blue Tit 18(21); Great Tit 5(6); Coal Tit 2(1); Marsh Tit (2); Dunnock 2; Robin 2(1); Blackbird 1; Goldcrest 1; Chaffinch 2(1); Lesser Redpoll 1. Totals: 36 birds ringed from 10 species and 33 birds retrapped from 7 species, making 69 birds processed from 11 species.
After processing the last few birds, we took down and got away from site by 13:00.