Monday, 18 December 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 17 December

I decided to run the session today as Sunday suited more people, despite the later forecasts on Friday suggesting that Saturday would be better. As it turned out the weather on Saturday was better – but maybe the birds would not have been as good! This morning started very cold, frosty and calm, but the clouds were gathering from the start, delaying the dawn for a while. Eventually it started to get light and the sun just appeared fleetingly above the eastern horizon before being covered by the cloud advancing from the west.

Waiting in the frost for the dawn to arrive were Kirsten, Alex, Duncan, Gary and I. The first round was a little disappointing but did include a Fieldfare, always a nice bird to catch and take your mind off the cold. The mince pies Gary brought along were also most welcome.

The next few rounds were better and it looked like we would have a decent catch by the end; even a Woodpigeon stayed in the net waiting to be extracted. Last week we had one in the net but it jumped out as soon as we approached. But then at around 10am the rain started. We headed to the nets and as we got close to the first net I noticed a shape in the net that I had not seen for many years. I nipped under the branches smartish to extract it before it had chance to escape. The last time I saw one of these little beauties in a net was at Widmerpool Hall in 1985. We caught over 50 there in the early 1980s. Although the last time the group ringed one Chris caught it in Clifton Wood in 2005, strangely it was on December 17th! Just the bird to warm up frozen fingers with a peck or two.

Hawfinch (all photos by K. Hemsley)
What a stunning bird, it made us forget the cold but unfortunately not the rain. That persisted so we had to take down by about 10:30 which was a pity but we were not disappointed with the birds we did catch in a much shortened session. We ended with a catch of 38 including 13 retraps and a control Long-tailed Tit. The catch was made up of (new/retrap and control): Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Dunnock 0/1, Robin 1/1, Blue Tit 1/3, Great Tit 0/3, Long-tailed Tit 8/4, Chaffinch 5/1, Greenfinch 2/0, Yellowhammer 1/1, Woodpigeon 1/0, Starling 1/0, Hawfinch 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2014.


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