Today was the best weather forecast we've had for weeks, and what's more it was correct! At times it felt like the start of an early Summers morning, birds were singing, Blue Tits were doing display flutters around the yard and prospecting holes in the stone walls of the outbuildings.
We met up with a couple of other ringers from a local group and had a lovely drive through the park down to Woodnook. By 08:30 the Pheasants were walking away (some of the cocks were positively strutting) across the fields for a day's foraging, leaving us to put some nets up around Woodnooks' many feeders. Extra hands meant that we were able to put up a few extra nets in the woods, always worth a try as you never know what you might pick up away from the feeders. On a good Beech mast crop year this wood has great potential for finches...especially the much sought after Brambling.
Things started well with a small first catch as the nets were put up. The chimney was smoking as we returned to the ringing hut, a welcome sight on any day. Add flasks of coffee and a corner of quality home made Christmas cake and who could want for more? (I never knew you were a Master Baker as well Neil?) The bottle of mulled wine on the side was calling for me all morning but I resisted, somehow.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming in a few locations and a Green Woodpecker yaffled in the background. We soon caught a new young male Great Spotted but again the Green Woodpecker was not to be had. Although the Green Woodpeckers are ground feeding birds they don't want to come down too low to investigate the MP3 players!
Every net round was producing a good mix and number of birds. We were delighted to find a small group of Siskin in the net and even more thrilled to see a female Brambling in the net directly above one of the Siskins. I'm hoping that the Siskins keep visiting local feeders over the Winter period, these were the first birds for this site. Maybe the Siskins were brought in by the abundant Goldfinch, the most numerous finch species around the site at the moment. Last Winter, in February/March time it was the Chaffinch that as most prolific.
|Female Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)|
|Brambling showing yellow underwing patch|
|Brambling showing white rump|
Just before Christmas a ringer in Somerset caught a Brambling in her garden bearing a Russian ring, amazing birds! (Just 350 something sleeps 'til Chrstmas BTW). We were delighted yet again on the final net round to find another Brambling and a few more Siskin, perfect result!
There were a few interesting retraps today. Four male Blackbirds were all birds from this site last Winter. Only one female was caught, a large foreign looking bird. We ringed a few broods of Blackbirds here in the Summer, hopefully we will retrap a fledgeling somewhere in the area. Three more finches were retrapped that were originally ringed over the park at Doric Lodge, where we shall be ringing tomorrow all being well.
Achey legs now but what a brilliant start to our bird ringing in 2013!
Totals for today (new/retrap)
01/00 Great Spotted Woodpecker
02/03 Long-tailed tit
00/03 Coal Tit
21/14 Blue Tit
08/09 Great Tit
06/00 Siskin - new for site
Soon the shooting season will draw to an end for another year, opening up opportunities for us to venture into the nearby fields in search of Yellowhammers, Reed Bunting and the cream of the crop, the Corn Bunting that I so desire to see!
We also came away with a tasty selection of game birds for the pot but to be fair we cant count them on our totals! I shall enjoy processing them tomorrow. It seems unappealing to many people but there's nothing more natural or satisfying than preparing your own food, it beats plastic wrapped supermarket meat anyday!