In a year that has seen catches down across the board and, from anecdotal information on the UK Facebook Ringer’s Group, across the country, I was rather expecting a quiet morning at Tedworth House today. Driving in to the site, I was delighted to see a good size flock of Swallows flying around or sitting on the wires by the stables complex for the polo ponies. They have been very few and far between around my sites so far this year.
Meeting with Dave Turner from the Wildlife Trust, at the almost civilised time of 6:00, we set up five short net rides and thought it would be a nice, leisurely session. 43 birds in the next three hours, working solo, was a good work out and I would like to thank the Blue Tits and Wrens for being entirely civilised, with no double-pocketing or spinning to worry about, making my life a lot easier.
It was an almost entirely juvenile extravaganza: with only four adults in the catch (Dunnock, Robin, Blackcap, Goldfinch). The catch was: Blue Tit 23; Great Tit 2; Wren 2; Dunnock 5; Robin 4; Song Thrush 1; Blackbird 2(1); Blackcap 2; Goldfinch 1. Totals: 42 birds ringed from 9 species and 1 bird retrapped. The retrapped Blackbird had been ringed as a pullus in the nest by Jack Daw, who carries out maintenance at Tedworth House, and who, regular readers of this blog will know, is a preeminent nest finder and pullus ringer, who enabled me to get some considerable additional experience this summer.
The house is supporting a decent number of House Martin nests and there was a good sized flock of them, and more Swallows, flying around the house and grounds. Unfortunately, they were all flying around roof height and well above net height, so there was no chance to catch any. Next month, with a bit of luck, we will be able to use lures to bring them closer.
One sad piece of news: whilst the Ravens successfully fledged three youngsters this year, one of them has been found dead. Because of the “Beast from the East” we had left them alone and not tried to ring them this year, so we know it was a fledged bird from this year. There were no obvious signs of what caused its demise.
A couple of short reports:
Brown’s Farm: Wednesday, 11th July:
Andrew Bray and I did a session at Brown’s Farm: unfortunately, it was a very quiet session, with only 9 birds caught. The list was: Great Tit 1; Robin 1; Blackcap 1; Whitethroat 1(1); Chiffchaff 1; Chaffinch 1; Linnet 1; Yellowhammer 1. 8 birds ringed from 8 species and 1 retrap. Andrew was happy to have his first Yellowhammer and Linnets of the year. There were birds around but not in the usual numbers. As it was at the height of the hot weather, we wondered whether birds had gone off in search of water, which was noticeably absent from the fields where we set our nets. Unlike our other recent catches, the number of juveniles was just a third of the total.
The Firs: Saturday, 14th July:
A good session in the Firs on Saturday where I was joined by Jonny, Steph and Lillie. It is always good to have Lillie around: she helps keep Jonny in order. At 8 years old, she is a highly competent ringer and taker of biometrics, but not quite ready to start extracting yet.
All 23 of the birds caught and ringed were juveniles, the 4 birds retrapped were all adults. The list for the day was: Blue Tit 9; Marsh Tit (1); Wren 8(3); Robin 3; Blackbird 1; Blackcap 1; Chiffchaff 1. Totals: 23 birds ringed from 6 species and 4 birds retrapped from 2 species. Catching 11 Wrens in one session is quite astonishing: that 8 of them were juveniles and in just two of the nets set up, suggests that we caught young from one or two broods.