It felt like it had been a year since we began ringing the winter feeding station at Woodnook last season because, basically, it has been a year and bit. The recent warm weather seems to have slowed down the take up of the feed by a couple of weeks but over the last week birds started to arrive in numbers, most noticeably a flock of about fifty Goldfinch. Ringing commenced here in November 2012 last year and ran to the end of April 2013. It's great to be back now and we are really looking forward to seeing what this season produces and finding out what differences, if any, are evident.*
We decided to take it easy and only put up a couple of pairs of nets at the key feeding locations. The release pen feeders were reportedly quiet which did seem to be the case as we set about our task. Job done we moved onto the Christmas tree area which was certainly busier with birds, including numerous chickens and Pheasants picking about on the floor. Pheasants will usually walk away if they aren't startled so some gentle encouragement saw them retreat on foot into the wood behind.
It was time for the first net round before I knew it, back into the release pen. Whilst Jilly set up shop in the beaters cabin I went and found several tits in the net. On return I was pleased to see that Neil had put "coil in't oyl" and set the stove up to draw through a roaring fire. After processing the first catch we extracted a mixture of finch and tits from the Christmas tree catching area, a pattern that became the order of the day with tit species preferring the wooded release pen and the finches preferring the more open feeding area.
A control (not one of our ring series) Greenfinch was a half time highlight before a small but heavy shower meant that the nets had to be temporarily furled up. We later found out that the Greenfinch had been ringed this Autumn in the Agden area, not too far away, as part of a bigger catch up there that seems to be becoming an annual occurrence for Steve, my ringing trainer.
The rain didn't last long, stopping just as quick as it started, which allowed us to open the nets again and finish as we had started, adding more finches, tits, and a couple of new Nuthatch to the mornings log. The final bird of the day was an unexpected Brambling, which I always find a pleasure to come across.
|Brambling (Fingilla montifringilla), female.|
In other news, a local ringer operating in the beautiful surrounds of the huge sewage works near Meadowhall has just retrapped a Blue Tit from this location, that we caught and ringed in March this year. It's not very far, about 3 miles as the Blue Tit flies, but a nice recovery none the less.
Catch totals for the day as follows:
08/00 Coil Tit
25/01 Blue Tit
13/01 Great Tit
*It's early days but what seems to be immediately apparent is the increase in tit numbers, particularly young, first year, birds. Last year was not a good breeding season for the tits, things appear to be much more normal this year so far. I'll keep you posted!