Trap Happy

Winter’s icy embrace grips the country. Snow falls from leaden skies, softening the harsh lines of the landscape and turning it into a glittering wonderland (as long as you don’t have to travel anywhere). With plummeting temperatures the world freezes and any standing water becomes locked away and treacherous underfoot. For birds such frozen conditions present a serious challenge. With food covered in deep snow and fresh water frozen solid, many flock to gardens where both may be in more plentiful supply. Feeders full of energy rich seeds, fat balls, apples, fresh unfrozen water, all draw in regular garden birds but also more unusual species struggling to find food in the wider countryside. Brambling, redpolls, redwings, fieldfare and even waxwings are just a few of the more unusual species of birds encountered in gardens at this time of year.

Bramblings flock to food provided in feeders

The close proximity of such birds relying on garden provisions is just too good an opportunity for a ringer to miss. However mist nets are not always the best way to go. Against the brilliant white of the snow, the black netting becomes more visible. In these situations walk in and drop traps provide an excellent additional method of capturing those birds that are willing feed on the ground, including some finches, and thrushes. Taking pride of place amongst the flower and vegetables beds of the Barber garden is one such trap.

Sunday morning and one of those unusual species of birds entered our garden. A fieldfare! From the top of the tree it warily eyed the scattering of seed and apples, weighing up the desire for food against the rather odd looking trap. Eventually seeing no imminent danger, the bird dropped to the ground and carefully wandered in. Within seconds the trap had been released and the bird was caught!

The stunning fieldfare

Its not every day you get to ring a fieldfare. Occurring in Britain during the winter, fieldfares are predominantly found in open woodland, arable farmland and in hedgerows. Habitats that are difficult to catch birds in at the best of times.

With a brand new shiny ring on its leg this particular fieldfare was soon back to old ways, nibbling on the apples next to the trap in the garden. Come the spring it will be heading back to Scandinavia to breed, and hopefully at some point may be caught again whether it be on its breeding territory or perhaps back in the UKnext winter, nibbling on the Barber’s apples.


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