It's with a little trepidation that we set out at the moment after several sessions with low totals. However, a couple of mornings of frost, coupled with still, overcast conditions meant that if we didn't catch this morning, something was very wrong. So it was with some relief that the first round produced a dozen birds and we continued to catch steadily all morning, finishing on 71 birds processed of 9 species.
Yellowhammers put in a fairly good show, mainly early on, with 16 birds ringed and 2 retrapped. It is interesting to note (though I offer no analysis) that 12 were male and the only adult we caught was female. About half the catch comprised tits; mainly Blue (5 new / 16 retrap) but also Great (7/4) and a single Willow Tit - a regular at the moment. Whether or not it was the male that was singing for much of the morning I don't know, but it was good to hear this often over-looked vocalisation repeatedly through the morning. Unlike the distinctive 'zee-zee-zee' call, the song is a purer 'tiu tiu tiu tiu tiu', repeated fairly quickly, but without any particularly arresting qualities!
This individual is looking particularly smart at the moment. Note the all black bill, the matt cap, the buffy wash to cheek (with no clear demarcations behind ear-covert) and underparts, the 'bull-necked' appearance, the stonking pale wing panel and the graduated (fan-shaped) tail - which is perhaps more obvious from below:
Marsh Tits tend to have only the outermost tail feathers shorter that the rest.
We also trapped the following: Dunnock (2/3), Robin (2/2), Blackbird (3/3), Chaffinch (4/0) and a single new Greenfinch (something of a rarity these days...). Retraps of note included two 5 year old Blue Tits (one ringed in a nest box 1km away) and a 4 year old Great Tit.
Away from the nets it was relatively quiet. the odd Lapwing and Reed Bunting came over as well as a single Redpoll. A Treecreeper was with a flock of Long-tailed Tits and average numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings pottered about. A covey of 14 Red-legged Partridges were sensibly hurrying in the opposite direction to the sound of shotguns. Highlight of the day was the nostalgic return of the camping stove and a bacon butty breakfast fit for kings.