A challenging couple of sessions, for all sorts of reasons, but with some highlights. Having been doing my monthly Help-4-Heroes session for 6 years now, what I do and how I involve the beneficiaries, staff, visitors and volunteers is well known within the House. I had to move the session from Wednesday to Thursday because the weather forecast for the scheduled session was not good. Unfortunately, this information was not passed on to the staff by my contact and, as a result, nobody was informed at morning muster that I would be on site.
Andrew Bray was going to join me on site. I sent him the start time of 6:00. Unfortunately, I inadvertently sent it to his Facebook Messenger account, not his mobile or email account and he didn’t see it. He assumed we were using the normal 4:30 start time and waited for me until 5:45, whereupon he went home. I rolled up 15 minutes later. Dave Turner helped me set up and provided the bacon sandwich. I was also joined by one of the non-resident beneficiaries, dealing with PTSD, who spent the morning with me, getting a good close look at the birds in the hand and being taught about ringing and how to handle the birds.
Everything went quite well until just after 9:00 when I went to check my nets adjacent to the Hero Garden. As I got to the nets I saw that the bottom shelf of my 9m net was flapping in the breeze. Stood there with a Blackcap in his hand, along with a considerable part of my net, was one of the beneficiaries. I was not happy, for so many reasons. Fortunately, the bird was undamaged, which is more than could be said for the net. The staff members were all very apologetic, but they sanctioned the action. In that closed environment I cannot understand why they didn’t check with management before taking any action. They have agreed to replace the net. I will have to make sure that I put up signs there, as I already do everywhere else, in future.
Anyway, the significant upside to the session was the ringing of my second Grey Wagtail at the site. Although I had previously ringed 9 Grey Wagtails, this was the first newly-fledged bird of the species that I have ringed. All of my others were caught at Marlborough Sewage Works during winter sessions, when I was a trainee. It wasn’t a big list for the day, just 14 birds: Blue Tit (1); Great Tit (1); Wren (1); Dunnock (1); Grey Wagtail ; Blackbird (1); Blackcap 2; Goldfinch 1. Totals: 3 adults ringed from 2 species; 6 juveniles ringed from 4 species and 5 birds recaptured from 5 species, making 14 birds processed from 8 species.
So to Saturday morning and Webb’s Wood. I was going to be joined by Jonny but he got a last minute invitation to go with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust team going to ring Greylag Geese in the Lake District. Annie was also going to join me but she called off sick first thing. So that left me working solo. I set 4 net rides comprising a total of 12 x 18m nets. It was quite cold early on (between 4:00 and 6:00) with few birds moving around. It got progressively hotter as the morning wore on until, by 10:00 it was very hot and the birds again stopped moving around. I took down at 11:00, after a decent catch of 47 birds.
The highlights were two of these:
They were the first two that I have caught in 2019, and the first for nearly a year. I love the colour of the coverts:
The second one was in a serious post-breeding moult and a good third of her coverts were missing.
The list for the day was: Jay 2; Blue Tit 1; Great Tit (2); Coal Tit ; Wren 1; Robin 1; Song Thrush (1); Blackbird (3); Blackcap 3; Chiffchaff 1(1); Goldcrest 1. Totals: 10 adults ringed from 7 species; 30 juveniles ringed from 6 species and 7 birds recaptured from 4 species, making 47 birds processed from 11 species.
Several of the adult birds were in post-breeding wing moult, including the Goldcrest, Blue Tit, both retrapped Great Tits and the previously mentioned Jay.