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Red Lodge: Saturday, 12th August 2017

The inglorious twelfth started with the disappointment of not being able to ring at Brown's Farm. The forecast was for fairly high gusts of wind alongside a reasonably low base wind speed.  We have spent far too much time extracting and repairing nets caught in hedgerows to risk it, so we decided to do one of the woodland sites.  Red Lodge was the next due for a visit and it turned out to be a pretty decent session for the team.  For the first time for a couple of months, we had a good sized team out with Ellie, Jonny, Annie and David joining me.  We put up 11 x 18m nets along the cross paths and by the ponds in the north-west section of the wood.

The session started well with two new Marsh Tits ringed from our first round. We finally ended up with four of them ringed and two others retrapped.  Definitely our best ever catch of this red-listed species,.and we are confident of eclipsing our previous best annual totals for these birds this year.  Our four newly-ringed birds were all juveniles, and the two retrapped birds were ringed as juveniles last year.  As far as the catch went there was only one disappointment: a female Sparrowhawk had chased a Blue Tit into the net and got a little entangled.  Unfortunately, it managed to untangle itself about 10 seconds after I spotted it was there and before I could get close enough to get a hold on her.  She was a beautiful specimen and I had lovely views as she flew away.

The list for the session was: Nuthatch 2; Treecreeper 2(2); Blue Tit 18; Great Tit 20(2); Coal Tit 4; Marsh Tit 4(2); Wren 6; Robin 9; Blackbird 4; Blackcap 5; Goldcrest 4; Bullfinch (1). Totals: 78 birds ringed from 11 species, seven birds retrapped from four species, making a total of 85 birds processed from 12 species.  Only 11 of these birds (all of the retraps, three of the Blackcap and one of the ringed Treecreeper) were adult birds.  One of the Nuthatch could not be aged as it had completed its moult, whereas one of them was still clearly a juvenile in the last stages of post-fledging moult.

After last year's dearth, it is pleasing to be catching decent numbers of Blue, Great and Coal Tits - but Long-tailed Tits are remarkable by their absence. Many people, including me, have seen flocks of them in gardens but we are still catching very few of them.  I mentioned in my last post about mortality rates.  Well, one of our Blue Tits after extracting, decided to die on us. It went very floppy and closed its eyes and I was cursing myself for having tempted fate. However, I cupped it in my hands and blew onto it, massaged its chest a bit, blew on it again and was shocked as it opened its eyes and coughed a few times. As it still looked a bit floppy, I put it in a bag, on the basis that it was safer there than being placed in a bush to recover (especially with a female Sparrowhawk on the hunt, and the cries of a hungry juvenile being heard quite regularly from nearby).  We returned to the ringing station and processed the extracted birds. Once we had finished the others, I opened the bag and was delighted to find the Blue Tit had fully recovered, biting me several times, as they do, as I took it out of the bag, and flying off strongly once processed.

On another theme touched upon in the last post: unnecessarily interfering people. It seems the local who objects to my having a bird table in the wood has returned and uprooted the table.  We will have to get the cameras out again and catch this individual, to avoid a repeat of last winter's thefts and vandalism.  ST/JC/EJ/AH/DW

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