The Day of the 91st Bird

Monday, November 7th 2011

As usual on a ringing day we were there as dawn broke.


Frost covered leaves were to be seen in some of the sheltered spots around the reserve.

Frost on a leaf

Retrapped birds made up the majority of the early catches and the 91 new birds needed to reach the highest ever annual total seemed increasingly unlikely.

During the day the siting of the duck trap was finally accomplished with thanks to everybody who helped with this not so easy task!  Food will be scattered around it from tomorrow so that ducks on the lake may be caught and ringed.  We have two traps in operation now that the Bellflask trap has also been re-activated.

The Duck Trap

Net rounds continued to produce new birds including the first influx of Scandinavian Blackbirds, Redwing, Siskin, Lesser Redpolls, Reed Bunting and several Greenfinch.  When the columns were added up in the middle of the afternoon over 60 new birds had been ringed and the target number suddenly became a possibility - just as well because we knew we would not be allowed home until the magic total had been reached!

Sun and warmth encouraged the insect life to show itself and reports of darter dragonflies flying, a shield bug and Whirlygig Beetles were also recorded.

The birds were processed in order but a solitary bag was hanging alone to one side as the number of bird ringers taking a break increased - nobody was keen to claim this particular bird.  A unanimous vote saw Tony taking it from the bag revealing a very angry young male Sparrowhawk!  

Tony with Sparrowhawk

By the time teams set off to take the nets down the number of new birds had increased to 88 - three short of what was required, and as the sun was thinking of setting the final nets were removed and the last of the birds was returned to the ringing room.

Then the countdown started 88, 89, then 90 - one more to go!  Lesley's Greenfinch was 91 which took the annual total of new birds ringed in the reserve to the highest ever at 3497.

Lesly, John and Greenfinch

Unfortunately it was too dark to take a photo outside but we could not let the occasion pass without a photograph, so here is the 91st new bird of the day and the record breaker - ringed by Lesley and checked by John. By close of play even more new birds had been ringed and we still have 6 weeks or more of the year to go!

the 91st bird - Greenfinch

3500 new birds ringed on a small reserve is quite an achievement and it was nice to share the experience with some young children who came in and were able to release a few birds themselves.  Today saw the number of new Blue Tits ringed on the reserve break the 4000 barrier and the number of new Long-tailed Tits pass 1000.  Among the retraps were a 6 yr old male Chaffinch, a 5 yr old male Blue Tit and a 5 yr old male Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Thanks are due to all of the contributors at Foxglove for the part everyone plays in producing this information.  Who would have thought we had such small birds surviving in this way, and there were others caught today that had lived almost as long.

As the team left the sun had set and the moon was rising.  As Robert Burns wrote…..Each took off his several way - resolved to meet some ither day!  It had been a fun and productive session - and yet another milestone!

The Moon

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