This was our regular monthly session at Ravensroost Woods, and it turned out to be a cracker. I was joined by Ellie and Jonny. We met up at 4:30 and set nets up in the wood along the main path north of the bridle path, plus along one newly reopened ride (the nets are in yellow, the red star is the ringing station):
It did not start auspiciously: with very few birds in the nets before 7:30. The weather was cold and quite misty to start, the sun eventually broke through and warmed the air. Only after that did the birds start moving. However, the whole session was a mixture of good catches and near blanks.
We started with a Blackbird, then a couple of Blackcaps, but at 7:30 we found a net full of ten newly-fledged Blue Tits plus two adults. At first we thought it might be a large family group, but the two adults turned out both to be male.
The routine reverted to small catches of a couple of birds, interestingly we caught a couple of newly-fledged Coal Tits, more of which later. At 10:00 we had another good catch: this time it included an additional eight newly-fledged Coal Tits.
The ringing station was set close to the gates south of the bridle path. It was a good place to meet people and we had a very pleasant morning chatting to the horse riders coming along the bridle path and visitors to the reserve. One family, granny, dad and young son, plus two lovely dogs, stayed with us for a while to watch us process the birds. In return, we showed them how to safely hold and release a few birds. They had the experience of seeing the loudest bird in the wood extracted and processed: a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The list for the session was: Woodpigeon 1; Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Blue Tit 16(2); Great Tit 2(3); Coal Tit 11(1); Robin 2; Blackbird 3(2); Blackcap 3(1); Garden Warbler 1; Chiffchaff 1; Goldcrest 2. 43 birds ringed from 11 species; 9 birds recaptured from 5 species, making 52 birds processed from 11 species. Of the birds processed 10 each of the ringed Blue and Coal Tits were newly-fledged young, as was one of the Robins.
Ellie’s highlight was the chance to process her first Woodpigeon, coupled with the fact that I took it out of the bag and was the one who was bombed by copious amounts of pigeon guano.
Unusually, the real highlights of the day were the Blue and Coal Tits. I could not remember ever catching newly-fledged young of these species so early in the year at this site, so I went onto the BTO’s database to check. Not only are these the earliest we have ever caught them at this site, but it is the earliest that anybody in our group has ever caught them since the group’s records were digitised (I went back nearly 20 years).
This then made me think about the Chiffchaff caught at Lower Moor Farm last Saturday, so I checked the records for them as well. Again, that is the earliest record we have ever had for a newly-fledged juvenile of that species. I have no idea why this is the case, but it is certainly interesting.