Monday, 22 January 2018

Meisen Wood - Phew!

Date: 14 - 1 - 2018
Nets: 63m (winter configuration)
Sound: none
Weather: cold becoming warm later
Ringers: CS and EB

Species
Ringed
Re-trapped
Total
Blackbird
3

3
Blue Tit
24
14
38
Brambling
3

3
Bullfinch
1

1
Chaffinch
3
1
4
Coal Tit
3
5
8
Crested Tit
1
1
1
Dunnock

1
1
Great Tit
22
23
45
Greenfinch
13
1
14
Long tailed Tit

5
5
Marsh Tit
3
7
10
Robin

1
1
Wren

1
1
Total
76
60
136

Phew!  What an active and thoroughly rewarding session.

A near freezing start with the cold metal, sectional net poles rapidly chilling our fingers was a temporary discomfort as an abundance of birds kept us busy for the whole session.  Indeed the final tally of 136 birds would have been higher but we closed a couple of the nets, twice, so we could comfortably and safely extract, and process the birds.

Meisen Wood is not idly named: with 80% of today’s captures being tits; and 61% being Great and Blue Tits.  The recent influx of tits (and finches) is undoubtedly due to the feeders.  With 53 new ringed tits today the question is where have they come from?  This simple question demonstrates that we still have plenty to learn about the movements of “common and local” birds.

Similarly intriguing is the age profile of the Great and Blue Tits.  Last autumn we lamented the low numbers of these species and particularly the near absence of juveniles.  Then we partially explained this as a consequence of two consecutively poor breeding seasons.  This conclusion was based on our nest box monitoring results in the last two years, when many broods were unsuccessful. Today’s session, for both species, gave ratios of 3:1, juveniles to adults (same results apply to last week’s results too); these figures were first captures on the day, same day re-captures were not included to avoid skewing the data.  So clearly both species have bred relatively well – somewhere, but not in the vicinity of Meisen Wood.

We both like Blue Tits not just for their striking colourful plumage but their feistiness too.  In extracting Blue Tits, often an involved process as they can become quite entangled, we admire how a 10g bird will take on a 90kg man by frenziedly pecking the extractor’s fingers.  Though this is a non-contest, the pecks are not particularly painful (though after extracting several hundred in a day the pecks can be), they are a sharp reminder of the organism’s determination to survive as we will be perceived as predators.

When we are busy processing birds we do take moments to appreciate their intrinsic beauty.  Today this particularly applied to the Bullfinch and the Bramblings.  The exotic colours of a male Bullfinch give it an almost tropical demeanour; while the complex assortment of the Brambling’s blacks, browns, yellows, oranges, whites and greys are simply wonderful, they are also useful in sexing and aging this species too.

During the morning we had enjoyed the sight and sound of several White fronted Geese skeins flying over.  These were probably “local” birds that have, at least temporarily, halted their migration because of the unusually mild weather.  They were simply moving between feeding areas.  Then while we were packing up we were treated to a flock of bugling Cranes flying over, going to the south-west; normally by now these birds are in Spain.  With a snowy forecast for the week ahead we may wish we were southern Spain.   

Brambling

Bullfinch

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