To say that this year’s CES has been a bit of a struggle would be an understatement. I had to miss CES3 due to a combination of illness and bad weather. This morning we had to curtail our session early because the wind got up and rendered it potentially dangerous for catching birds, not to ignore the fun of extracting nets from the surrounding vegetation. However, in the short time we had the nets open (5:30 until 9:45) we actually caught and processed significantly more birds than in the equivalent session last year.
I was joined for the session by Rosie and two Lucy’s (or should that be “Lucies”?). Lucy M, back from her work on Ascension Island monitoring and working on turtle conservation, stopping off for a morning’s ringing, before heading north to take up her new role as a reserve warden at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Caerlaverock: just a wee jaunt up to Scotland. Also Lucy O who is currently volunteering with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and has joined in with some of the Barn Owl checking (see previous post) and Swallow nest checking in the last couple of weeks.
We had the nets open nice and early, with four sets of hands to help, and started catching immediately. The first couple of rounds were light and productive. Star bird of the morning was:
My team’s first Sparrowhawk of the year. Although it didn’t have particularly obvious heart-shaped markings on the breast, it was very definitely a juvenile male. The biometric measurements showed it was a male and the brown colouration, particularly around the nape of the neck, was indicative of its age. There were a couple of grey feathers on the upper tail coverts but nowhere else.
Everything changed at 8:30. In our net ride that runs along the edge of Mallard Lake we had a fall of, primarily, Blue Tits and Long-tailed Tits plus a few Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and the odd other species representative: over 40 birds in three nets. The catch was: Sparrowhawk ; Treecreeper (1); Blue Tit ; Great Tit [6}; Long-tailed Tit (2); Wren ; Dunnock (1); Robin (1); Blackbird 1; Cetti’s Warbler (1); Blackcap (1); Garden Warbler 1; Chiffchaff (1); Willow Warbler . Totals: 2 adults ringed from 2 species, 49 juveniles ringed from 11 species and 8 birds retrapped from 7 species, making 59 birds processed from 14 species. In fact, even the two retrapped Long-tailed Tits were juveniles, ringed at the last session there on the 15th June.
Once we had finished processing that lot, the breeze had got up and I decided we needed to shut the nets, bringing a premature end to the session. It was the right decision, the wind was just getting stronger and there were no pockets left in the nets. With three of us to take down, Rosie having left to actually go to work for the day, it didn’t take long to get everything sorted, so, we were off site by just after 10:00. At least that gave Lucy M plenty of time for her long journey north!