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Wood Lane: 6th April 2013

With the improving weather it was great to get out without wellies.  I ringed a private site that backs on to Webb's Wood from Wood Lane near Braydon.  In four nets the following birds were ringed / (retrapped): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Nuthatch 1, Dunnock 1 / (1), Blackbird 2, Wren (1), Robin (1), Blue Tit 15 / (3), Great Tit 6 / (4), Coal Tit 2/(1), Long-tailed Tit 5, Chiffchaff 1, Chaffinch 6/(1), Goldfinch 1, Lesser Redpoll 3 / (1), Siskin 2: making a total of 46 ringed and 13 retraps.
Highlights were my first Chiffchaff of 2013 and a Lesser Redpoll that was ringed on the 30th March at Somerford Common.  This adds to the tally of movement between sites in the Braydon Forest. Previous movements were unsurprisingly between the Wood Lane site and the Firs and Webb's Wood. Also between Ravensroost and Somerford Common.  This is the furthest movement so far: however it is only 2.5 km.


Lesser Redpoll

lesser redpoll



Somerford Common, 30th March 2013

I tried a new site in the Somerford Common / Milbourne Common complex - within the paddock set up for the putative Exmoor ponies.  It is  little more exposed than some of my other sites and so the nets came down at 10:00 when the wind got up.  The sun was welcome when it broke through the clouds.  There wasn't a lot of birdlife but what there was, was quality. Woodcock was heard calling within the thicket from which I disturbed one yesterday when establishing the net rides.  I only know that because I have been listening to the call detail Bill Quantrill sent me for the woodcock survey.  Birds ringed / (retrapped) were:

Robin 2; Great Tit 8 / (2); Blue Tit 8 / (1); Coal Tit 2; Marsh Tit 3; Lesser Redpoll 6.



Ravensroost 24th March 2013

One of the beauties of a site like Ravensroost Woods is that, even when it is blowing a gale outside, you can find a quiet sheltered spot to erect a couple of nets.  Because of the weather I set up just two nets rides and had a decent catch. Birds ringed / (retrapped): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Nuthatch (1); Robin 1 / (1); Blue Tit 10 / (15); Great Tit 2 / (5); Coal Tit (2); Chaffinch 7 / (4); Siskin 6. 

The Siskin influx is marked: in 4 years of ringing, from January 2009 to January 2013, I had ringed 6, in February and March I have ringed 28 so far, at least one in every site (including 6 in my back garden in Purton) with the most (13) in one session in Webb's Wood.

Braydon Forest Marsh Tit Project

As of September last year a project was started to establish and monitor the number and status of the Marsh Tit, Poecile palustris, in the Braydon Forest area.  The study area comprises Ravensroost Woods, Red Lodge Woods, the Firs, Somerford / Milbourne Common and Webb's Wood.  Over the next five years efforts will be made to find as many Marsh Tits as possible and to establish which of the habitats in these locations support the largest populations.  This information will then be used to inform the landowners to help them manage the woods better for the Marsh Tit, a red-listed UK bird.  

The birds are being caught in mist nets and given colour ring combinations so that they can be uniquely identified without retrapping.  All birds ringed to date have a metal ring over dark blue on the left leg, with different coloured ring combinations on the right leg.  If you are out birding in any of these sites and manage to see one with the coloured rings could you please send the details of the right leg colours to the following e-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or else text 07789 438451.  If you can provide a location or map reference that would be very useful as I am mapping movements between the sites as well.

To date Marsh Tits have been colour-ringed in all of the sites, 3 each in Webb's Wood and Somerford / Milbourne Common, 2 in Red Lodge Wood, 1 in the Firs and 5 in Ravensroost Woods.  There are also at least another 10 ringed birds in Ravensroost - but without colour rings as they pre-date the start of the project.  Ravensroost has been ringed for much longer than the other sites and, if the density of Marsh Tits in the other sites is similar to that in Ravensroost, there could be a sizeable population in this area.  ST

Garden Ringing

This weekend was a washout for the scheduled session in Ravensroost Woods so instead, once the weather cleared - and the snow stopped falling, I put up a couple of nets in my garden.  Garden ringing requires more attention than wild area ringing as, if you live in the middle of a large village like Purton, there are more potential dangers than elsewhere: primarily the ubiquitous moggy.  No 20 minute intervals between rounds: constant vigilance and removing birds immediately they are netted is the key to ensuring their safety.

The session went well: 2 each of Siskin, Blackbird and Goldfinch; 1 each of Starling, Chaffinch and Robin - and a lot of my garage got cleared up (necessary after the debris from over half a tonne of food used this winter). ST



The Firs, 10th March 2013

The ringing session at the Firs WWT reserve on the 10th March 2013 was the first since the Wildlife Trust installed two new ponds in the central ride. As expected at this time of year the vicinity of the feeding station provided most of the birds but the net by the new ponds delivered 40% of the birds caught.

New birds ringed
  3 x Treecreeper; 7 x Blue Tit; 2 x Great Tit; 6 x Coal Tit; 5 x Long-tailed Tit; 1 x Goldcrest; 6 x Chaffinch; 1 x Siskin Total: 31 new birds ringed
Retrapped birds: 1 x Nuthatch; 2 x Robin; 2 x Blue Tit; 5 x Great Tit;1 x Coal Tit; Total: 11 birds retrapped
Total: 42 birds processed.

Also seen or heard at the site were: Green Woodpecker; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Blackbird; Fieldfare; Jackdaw and Buzzard.  This was the best catch at this location and indicates that the work the Trust is doing is already making it more attractive to birds.  ST



Ringing Demonstration 23/02/13

On a very cold morning on the 23rd February Rob Turner, Ian Grier and Simon Tucker held a ringing demonstration in Ravensroost Woods on behalf of the Swindon Wildlife Group. A total of 16 adults and 6 children, aged 8 to 80, got first hand experience of what the ringing process involves: from extraction to taking biometric data and ringing the birds, plus some of the criteria for ageing and sexing some of our commoner birds.  Highlights for the group included getting some close up photos of birds in the hand - particularly the Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch. The reaction was very enthusiastic and we will be running the event again in early August.  It will be advertised on the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust web-site if anybody is interested in coming along.

The bird  list from the day was:
New birds ringed:
  1 x Great Spotted Woodpecker
  2 x Robin
10 x Great Tit
29 x Blue Tit
  1 x Coal Tit
  2 x Chaffinch
Total birds ringed: 45

Retrapped birds:
  1 x Nuthatch
  3 x Blackbird
  1 x Robin
  6 x Great Tit
18 x Blue Tit
  4 x Coal Tit
Total birds retrapped: 33
Total birds processed: 78  ST