A poor month on the face of it. Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside of my control, I only managed to complete three out of eight scheduled sessions this May. I missed a session at Brown’s Farm, where last May we caught two of our star birds, the Yellow Wagtail and Firecrest, and the missing Yellowhammers. Also, for the first time since I started it, I was unable to carry out CES3 at Lower Moor Farm. That was my biggest disappointment.
With migrants continuing to arrive, particularly the summer warblers I would expect to catch in the woods, at the farms and around the lakes at Lower Moor Farm, we missed out on a significant number of birds. Despite that, the average numbers are comparable with last year:
This year there have been a lot of reports of early breeding. The highlight for the Group this month has to be Andy’s Stone Curlew chicks. Last year’s chicks were ringed 5 weeks later than these. Perhaps they could be on for a second brood this year?
Because other ringers have been reporting Barn Owl chicks at a wide variety of development stages, including some which have already developed their full facial disk, I have started my Barn Owl monitoring work earlier than usual. On Monday evening, Jonny and I did a survey of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust boxes in the Ravensroost complex and at Blakehill Farm. This led to hand netting a male Barn Owl and we found 2 eggs, 1 in the process of hatching, plus 2 naked pulli. Somewhat surprisingly, the male was unringed. It would be interesting to know where he came from. Due to the constraint of available bodies to help, I have rather focused on a subset boxes within the Braydon Forest, Waterhay and Lower Moor Farm. Given that we ringed 27 Barn Owls last season, in the area of Waterhay and the Braydon Forest, and this was a male bird from last year, I think that shows I need to start monitoring the other boxes in the area. The plan is to check the rest of my usual boxes in the course of the next week.
We also found a Stock Dove nest with 2 pulli, feathers short and a Jackdaw nest with 3 pulli, feathers medium. Compared to last year, we ringed 2 Stock Dove pulli in mid-July, one at feathers short and the other at feathers medium but, as they can have up to 4 broods per year, last year’s were probably second brood birds..
The Jackdaw chicks were at a comparable development stage to previous years at the same reserve, although the old nesting site, the bug hotels at the Whitworth building, were destroyed by the weather and fell apart in winter 2020/21.