It is not often I have a 12 day break between sessions but, due to a number of circumstances beyond my control, that is what has happened, with two sessions missed since the first CES on the 2nd May.
I was on site just after 5:00 and joined bright and early (5:30) by David, and a little later in the session by Anna. We set all of our usual CES nets. Last time, although we caught fewer birds, every net set caught. Today one of our most reliable nets failed to catch a single bird. That is not to say that it wasn’t full of birdsong: Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Chiffchaff kept up a constant chorus all morning, they just avoided the nets.
With the nets open by 6:30 we started catching soon after. Our first catch was a small flock of four Long-tailed Tits:
All four were juveniles, close together in the same net and one would suspect that they were brood mates. In the next round we caught another six. They were in the same net ride but at the farthest end from where the others were caught. Again, all juveniles, all closely grouped together in the same net, again, possibly brood mates. Importantly, these are the earliest juvenile Long-tailed Tits the group as a whole has caught by 6 whole days.
We kept catching the odd Blackcap, Great Tit and Chiffchaff but, unusually, they were all recaptures: not a single new bird for those species on the site. Amongst today’s highlights were:
This is the fourth earliest juvenile Dunnock the group has ever caught.
The list for the day ended up as: Treecreeper (1); Great Tit (3); Long-tailed Tit 10: Wren (1); Dunnock 1(5); Blackbird 1(1); Cetti’s Warbler 1; Blackcap (8); Garden Warbler 1(1); Chiffchaff (3). Totals: 14 birds ringed from 5 species and 23 birds retrapped from 8 species, making 37 birds processed from 10 species. Interestingly, CES 2 last year also delivered 37 birds processed from 12 species, with 11 ringed from 6 species and 26 retrapped from 11 species. Interestingly, two of the species missing this year were two of our commoner ones: Robin and Song Thrush.
The CES sessions rather fell away last year, after the bout of extremely wet and windy weather in the last couple of weeks of May. Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of that this year.
During the course of the session we were joined by quite a few people interested to see what was happening. There were a couple of farmers from the Avebury area who had come to photograph dragonflies and anything else they had around. We had a decent chat about the improvements to the bird life on their farm since the funding of the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area and the conservation work done to help expand the Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting populations in their area.
Rob Werran and his fiancée arrived at about 8:30. This was Rob’s farewell to the team. He has been a delight to have around, but increased pressures at his work have made it impossible for him to be able to commit the time. If that changes he knows he is welcome back.
One thing we did note was there was a significant emergence of what I am pretty certain is the Downy Emerald, C0rdulia aenea:
We closed the nets at 11:55 and had everything packed away and ready to leave site by 12:45. I must pay a big “thank you” to David’s dad, Trevor. As David doesn’t drive, his dad gets up early to get him to site, and always arrives in time to help us pack away at the end of the session.