Spring now seems to be well underway although I think it feels a little late. The trees and hedgerows only just seem as though they have sprung to life.
Today was our first ringing session in 2-3 weeks as it's been the Easter holidays, Peter was away in Portugal and other opportunities for getting out have been cancelled because of the windy weather. Today's ringing session had a difference, because it was our first RAS (Re-trapping Adults for Survival) session of they year, which we kicked off at one of my favorite Blackcap RAS sites.
What's a RAS? Click here to find out more.
This becomes our third year of doing the Blackcap RAS and will be interesting over the course of the next few months to see which birds we will catch from previous years that may have come back, or new birds to the area, or birds that are just passing through the woods.
This year, we have started the RAS slightly earlier than last, and we have learnt that timings of catching are very important to the numbers of birds caught. The Blackcaps were definitely back and were singing around every corner which meant this morning started off brilliantly, catching a Blackcap in every net round.
In fact there was a lot of bird activity all over the place with lots of birds gathering nesting material. By simply watching patiently, I managed to find a Chiffchaff nest and saw the bird bringing back material. We also found a Robin nest. Apart from the Blackcaps, birds caught were steady throughout the morning with the usual tit species and it was very nice to catch a re-trap adult Jay and a couple of Treecreepers.
HOWEVER, the last Blackcap we caught during the session was very special. It was first ringed at this site five years ago, however, we hadn't been able to re-trap it since. In between when it was ringed originally and when we had caught it today poses the question, where had it been all this time? Has it been here all along every year breeding and we haven't caught it, or perhaps it uses this site en-route to another site? Anyway this was very interesting and we will know if it sticks around if we catch it again - we'll see! It just shows how science often creates more questions that need answering.
All together we caught 19 Blackcaps, and it was a pretty even percentage of males and females which is a great start to the RAS.