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New Zealand Farm: Thursday, 24th August 2017

With migrating birds on the move through the county already, I suggested to Ian Grier and Andy Palmer that a session at New Zealand Farm might be rewarding.  The habitat is primarily hawthorn scrub, with extensive blackberry bushes and some elder, surrounded by the nearly ubiquitous chalk grasslands. It offers a lot of food for birds fattening up for migration, plus plenty of shelter.  They agreed, and so, on Thursday, we rendezvoused at site and set several net rides throughout the bushes and three two-shelf nets along the dirt track across the Plain.  Ian and Andy had a close encounter with a Nightjar, sitting on the dirt track as they made their way to site.  As Ian himself said, unfortunately they were too busy chatting to react quickly enough to dazzle the bird and catch it for ringing.

As we are now out of the breeding season, lures are allowable. Quite often, it is still just a matter of luck, but this morning I set a lure for Tree Pipit, and first round there were three Tree Pipits sitting in that net.  The Swallow lure also worked, in that the three we caught were caught in that net ride, and the Linnets (plus the Goldfinch and Redstart) were caught in the net with the Linnet lure playing.  If the other lures had worked this would be a much more exotic blog.

2017 07 24trepi

Rather like yesterday, the session went very well until 10:00, and then the birds, presumably too stuffed on blackberries to move, just disappeared. The catch for the session was: Swallow 3; Jay 1; Blue Tit 2; Great Tit 5; Wren 2(1); Dunnock 2; Tree Pipit 3; Redstart 1; Robin 3; Song Thrush 1; Blackbird 1; Reed Warbler 1; Blackcap 4; Whitethroat 18; Lesser Whitethroat 1; Chiffchaff 2; Willow Warbler 2; Goldfinch 1; Linnet 2.  Totals: 55 birds ringed from 19 species and one retrap.  It was an excellent variety for a single catch in a fairly uniform habitat, with nineteen species.  The single retrapped bird was a Wren ringed last year at the same site.  As with other catches, a huge proportion of these birds were juveniles: only nine were adults.

The Redstart, Goldfinch and two Linnets were caught in one of the two-shelf nets set along the track.  These nets were set so that they ran alongside the large puddles in the track, which are the only source of water local to the site.  After 10:00 the wind got up and, as New Zealand Farm is at the top of the Plain, it is quite exposed and the nets began billowing so, as the birds had also disappeared, we decided to take down and leave site.  ST/IG/AP

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