West Wilts Group

Blakehill Farm, Sunday, 25th October 2015

 With the day forecast to be flat calm and overcast we went ahead with a planned session at Blakehill Farm. I was joined by my trainees Jonny Cooper and Daniela Diveney.  The central plateau is currently playing host to a large number of cattle, including a stunning Limousin bull, so we decided to set nets along the hedgerow on the perimeter road to the east of the site rather than rely on the good nature of a bull in a field full of cows.  It was a cold start to the morning, with a pretty heavy ground frost for this time of year,  We set 9 x 18m and 1 x 12m nets in 4 rides and played lures for Redwing, Reed Bunting, Linnet and Meadow Pipit.  The lures were all successful, although we only caught one Linnet. Daniela took this cracking Redwing photograph:

2015 10 25 Blakehill 2

There were many highlights of the session: a good catch of Redwing in open country and not at a roost; the best catch of Reed Bunting so far at the site; a good number of Goldcrests and a late captured Chiffchaff, neither species particularly associated with open countryside but in or adjacent to woodlands.  The real highlights from a ringing perspective were controlled Reed Bunting and Great Tit.  Controls are birds ringed elsewhere and caught on your patch and provide information on the movements of the birds.  Both were on UK rings, so interesting but not exciting (as they would be if the rings were continental). *The controls have been identified as birds ringed at Waterhay this year: the Reed Bunting on the 4th October and the Great Tit on the 11th July.  Thanks to John Wells for the information.

The list for the day was, New (Retrap): Blue Tit 1(1); Great Tit 2(2); Long-tailed Tit 18; Wren 3; Dunnock 4; Meadow Pipit 3; Robin 4; Redwing 12; Chiffchaff 1; Goldcrest 4; Goldfinch 20(1); Linnet 1; Reed Bunting 8(1). Totals: 81 new from 13 species and 5 retraps from 4 species. 

As well as the birds caught we had good views of Fieldfare (at least 20 flying about), Raven, a Kestrel being harried by a Carrion Crow, plus hundreds of Goldfinch out on the central plateau. ST / JC/ DD

Ravensroost Woods, Friday 23rd October 2015

The weather this morning was just perfect for ringing: dry, overcast and virtually windless. I was joined by my trainees Ellie Jones and Jonny Cooper for what turned out to be a very satisfying session in Ravensroost Woods. We set three net rides of 3 x 18m nets each.  A lure for one of Redwing, Lesser Redpoll and Goldcrest was set against each ride, as below:


Each of the lures did their jobs.  We saw no Redwing flying around at any point during the session but extracted and ringed four of them in close proximity to the lure.  There was also a first autumnal Lesser Redpoll for Ravensroost this year and a goodly number of Goldcrests mainly trapped in close proximity to their respective lures.

Any session that serves up four Nuthatches is a good session. However, the highlight of the day for me was the trapping of 5 Marsh Tits: one new and four retrapped birds. Of the retrapped birds, one was originally one of the first I colour ringed on 13th October 2012.  It was identified as an adult when ringed initially, making the bird at least 4 years old.  Typical life is 2 years but the oldest recorded was over 10 years from when first ringed - so it has a way to go yet.


The list for the session was, New (Retrap): Nuthatch 4; Blue Tit 5(2); Great Tit 2(2); Coal Tit 1; Marsh Tit 1(4); Long-tailed Tit 8; Wren 2(2); Robin 1(2); Redwing 4; Blackbird 3(1); Goldcrest 10(1); Lesser Redpoll 1; Bullfinch 1.  Totals: 43 new from 13 species and 14 retraps from 7 species. ST / EJ / JC