Flying Solo

After a day of grey, drizzly rain while it seemed the rest of the UK basked in wonderful November sunshine, I woke on Sunday morning to a cold, crisp, clear night sky that was just starting to lighten with dawn. The grass was like frozen green beans, crunching under foot, while mist clung to the parks and open areas of the forest. When the sun rose the trees framing the paddocks at the farm blazed fiery red and orange, glowing against the brilliant blue sky. Surrounded by the trees and bushes of the farm’s garden, the mist nets remained in the shade, perfect for catching birds.

Goldfinch with a more unusual orange face

Today at the farm it was just me and two nets. Being a ‘C’ permit holder means I can ring on my own. However most of the time I ring with Lee, and a group of others since the farm is not one person’s site. Today however I was making the most of the fact that Lee, and most of the others were in Scotland.

After the beauty of the morning, the birds did not disappoint. Although there was no sign of the siskins and redpolls that often dominate the catches in this garden during winter, there were plenty of tits around including blue, great, coal and marsh tit. Even before I had finished unfurling my nets I had caught two coal tits, which unlike many of the other tits have had a reasonably successful breeding season. There were also plenty of goldfinches, tinkling away in the tops of the trees, before piling down to the feeders and into the nets.

As the sun shifted position it started to catch the nets, making them more visible and in return the number of birds caught started to slow. Still, enough time to catch a male great spotted woodpecker, screeching blue murder as I tried to get him out of the net with my fingers still in tact. It only half worked, yes I got him out fine and yes I still have all my fingers, its just now they know how a tree feels when a woodpecker starts hammering at it!

Male great spotted woodpecker

Bird of the morning had to be a beautiful adult male brambling, with his striking orange, white and black plumage, with flashes of yellow under the wing this bird is one of the stars of winter ringing.

Stunning male brambling

With the final net round came on last surprise for my mornings solo ringing – its certainly a little more unusual to catch a woodpigeon in our mists nets!

One final surprise in the nets

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