The paddocks were shrouded in thick fog. Beyond the fences the shadows of a small copse of trees were just about visible. The horses in the paddocks look up, curious, as the unusual threesome start setting up nets in the garden beyond their fence line. They wander over, a little cautious, but mainly curious of the activity, especially the smallest of the trio that is wondering around, making rather funny noises. Tiny beads of water hang from the slender branches of the trees and shrubbery that surround feeders full to bursting with seeds. Three nets are set, covering three sets of feeders. The trio retreat and the horses return to their browsing, no longer interested in the goings on over the fence.
From the comfort of a warm, cosy conservatory, looking out over one of the sets of feeders we spend the morning happily ringing all sorts of small passerines. It is lovely to see so many birds flitting between bushes, trees and feeders. Mainly blue and great tits, but a good number of goldfinch too. A handful of siskin and chaffinch, blackbirds, nuthatch and coal tits too. In the trees we spy a couple of brambling, and a kestrel takes flight from the wood, hovers briefly, before alighting on the telegraph wires that cross the paddocks. Scattered across the grass large numbers of redwing and fieldfare traverse its green, searching for food amongst the dewy grass. The loud yabba yabba call of a green woodpecker echoes out over the garden and paddocks beyond.
As the morning progresses the warmth of the sun burns away the fog. Revealing the wood, and undulating fields beyond. The little red book is filled with information, details on age, sex, wing length and weight of all the birds we catch and ring. By lunchtime, and with the smell of warm soup and crusty bread drifting from the kitchen, the number stands at a tantalising 99 birds caught….
Those blue and great tits, naturally, dominate the catch but goldfinch also make up a large proportion of the total. In addition we catch a couple of siskin, marsh tit, coal tit and blackbirds, one greenfinch and one very dapper male lesser redpoll. A male and female nuthatch and two beautiful treecreepers complete the days catch. Then it is time to retreat and enjoy that soup…