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After being away for a week or so and then with a wet and windy weekend it was a relief to get a bit of ringing done today.  However, this is possibly the laziest bit of ringing I have ever done: arriving on site at 10:00, putting up 5 nets in new positions just to test out whether they might be useful alternatives this winter.  The good news was that 2 of them look very promising: one delivering the 2 Goldcrests that I caught, the other delivering the bulk (!) of the rest.  The birds caught were all birds of this year: New Birds (Retraps); Blue Tit 4 (1); Great Tit 6; Coal Tit 1 (1); Goldcrest 2.

Coal TitGoldcrest


An interesting session in Webb's wood today.  Having managed to get myself out of bed early enough to have all my nets up by 7:00 this morning I then managed to catch a single Wren between then and 10:30.  Instead of doing the sensible thing and packing up I put up two more nets at 9:30.  Between 10:30 and 12:30 I extracted and processed an additional 92 birds.  It was very busy but easy enough to cope with: as I emptied each net I closed it to prevent it catching any additional birds.  As you would expect, the majority were Blue and Great Tits but there were some cracking birds in the mix. The birds were as follows: adults (retraps) [juveniles] as usual:
Great Spotted Woodpecker [1]; Nuthatch 2*; Treecreeper [1]; Great Tit 7 (1) [22]; Blue Tit (1) [20]; Coal Tit [7]; Long-tailed Tit 17* (2); Wren 2 [1]; Robin [1]; Blackcap (1); Chiffchaff [1]; Willow Warbler 1 [1] Goldcrest [4].

Totals: 29 adults / not aged; 5 retrapped and 59 juveniles.
* with Nuthatch and Long-tailed Tit both adults and young undergo a full post-breeding / post-fledging moult and are pretty much indistinguishable one from the other by the autumn.

Great Spot webbGoldcrest webNuthatch webTreecreeper webWillow Warbler webWillow Warbler front

A busy session in Ravensroost Woods today.  I was delighted to be joined by David Wall: to whom I am grateful for his help in putting up and taking down the nets and for being my scribe for the session.  That extra pair of hands makes a lot of difference.

The birds captured were as follows: adult (retrap) [juvenile]

Treecreeper [1]; Great Tit 2 (2) [4]; Blue Tit (1) [18]; Coal Tit [1]; Long-tailed Tit 5*; Robin 1 [4]; Blackcap 1 [7]; Chiffchaff 3 (1) [4]; Willow Warbler (1).  Totals: 7 adults, 5 not aged, 5 retrapped and 39 juveniles.  The Long-tailed Tits are not aged because both adults and young undergo a full moult in the summer months so you cannot tell which year they were born in.

Robin, the warden at Ravensroost, had been worrying about where his Blue Tits had gone and concerned that they might have had a poor breeding season: they seem to have done fine.  All birds caught were in really good condition and there is clearly a lot of food available this autumn.  ST

At the entrance to Red Lodge Wood is a pond, which used to be a WWT reserve but, as it has degraded over the years, becoming overrun with Equistales and parts have dried out and reverted to scrub, it has become a much less interesting place for birds.  Red Lodge as a whole is excellent for all aspects of natural history.  Having done a few sessions in the main wood I decided to give the area near the pond a go - with tape lure for Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

It worked rather well, the birds ringed were as follows: adults [juveniles] (no retraps this session).

Great Tit [9]; Blue Tit [10]; Coal Tit [2]; Dunnock [1]; Robin 1 [2]; Blackbird [3]; Blackcap [3]; Chiffchaff 1 [7]; Willow Warbler [3].  Totals: 2 adults, 40 juveniles.

I wrote my usual post visit report for the Forestry Commission and highlighted the issue with the pond and I am delighted to say that they have come back to me and have allocated money in their conservation budget to get an excavator in to dredge it.  They will do it before winter sets in and hopefully that will provide enough rainfall to top it up and start its return to its former glory. I look forward to seeing it colonised by the odd Sedge or even Reed Warbler - and ringing them. ST


One of the beauties for me of working from home from time to time is that I can see my garden from my desk.  With two small nets up I managed to combine work with a bit of ringing.  My garden is the most reliable place for me to catch Starlings and the only place that I catch Greenfinch.

The birds ringed were: Blackbird (adult male); Greenfinch (1 adult male; 2 juvenile males); Chaffinch (juvenile female) and Starling (3 adult male, 1 adult female, 1 juvenile).  I have now ringed more Starlings in my back garden than in all other places combined. ST

Having tried out some new rides the last time I ringed at Somerford Common I wanted to focus on the two that had been moderately successful.  So I put up 2 rides of 66m of net each plus one tape at each for Blackcap and Garden Warbler and sat back to see what happened.  Sat back is not really the right term: from 7:00 until 10:30 the birds came in as regular as clockwork.  By 10:30 I had ringed 48 birds - so there was no way I could leave until I had caught a nice round 50 - which took another half hour.  The catch was excellent: mainly juvenile Blackcaps - and you can tell that autumn is knocking on the door: my hands and clothes are sporting a lot of purple as the birds fatten up on blackberries.

The catch was: adults ringed (retraps) [juveniles ringed]

Dunnock [3]; Robin [6]; Blackbird [3]; Blackcap 1 (1) [31]; Garden Warbler [1]; Whitethroat 1; Chiffchaff [1]; Willow Warbler [1]; Bullfinch 1 [1]. Totals: 2 (1) [48]. 
The highlights for me were the Garden Warbler and the Whitethroat.  With my interest in Marsh Tits I was disappointed not to catch any - and then frustrated when two flew through the ride area at net height five minutes after I had taken them down: that's life. ST
IMG 8863
What a morning: I decided to do Ravensroost Meadows and pond as I did two sessions in Ravensroost Woods last weekend.  It was a good decision.The highlights were: 4 x Lesser Whitethroat; 1 x Reed Warbler and 2 x Swallow.  What is more: I ringed my 5,000th bird this morning: a Goldfinch juvenile.
I knew that the Lesser Whitethroats were around but they have tended to be away from the pond area so I was lucky to get such a good crop.  The Reed Warbler was a first for me to see, let alone ring, at that site.  The Swallows were also satisfying in that I had watched how they had hawked over the pond a couple of weeks ago and so I put a net along the causeway and caught both Swallows and a Whitethroat in that net.
The list was as follows: adult (retrap) [juvenile]
Swallow 1 [1]; Great Tit 1; Blue Tit [2]; Wren (1) [1]; Dunnock 1 [1]; Robin [1]; Blackbird (1) [2]; Reed Warbler 1; Blackcap [3]; Whitethroat 1 (1) [6]; Lesser Whitethroat 3 [1]; Chiffchaff [6]; Willow Warbler 1 [2]; Goldfinch 1 [3]; Chaffinch [2]
Totals: 10 adults ringed;  3 retraps processed; 33 juveniles ringed.

A session on Sunday morning turned out to be nicely productive.  For once, it was nice to get my hands on some Blue and Great Tits.  There are always plenty in the autumn and winter but they tail off in the spring and I catch very few in the summer.

The list was as follows: unringed adult (retrap) [juvenile]: Great Tit 1 (1) [13]; Blue Tit 1(1) [15]; Treecreeper [1]; Wren 1 [1]; Dunnock [1];  Robin [3]; Blackbird [1]; Blackcap [3]; Chiffchaff [5]; Willow Warbler 1; Chaffinch 6 [1]; Goldfinch [2]

Total ringed: 56, including 10 adults and 46 juveniles; Retrapped: 2

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Wiltshire Ornithological Society was formed on November 30th, 1974, and has grown in recent years to more than 500 members.

Our mission is to encourage and pursue the study, recording and conservation of birds in Wiltshire

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