This month we started ringing at a farm that we hope can grow into a broader project to survey the farmland birds across the Middle Thames.
We started at dawn on a family farm, near Lane End, Bucks. It is one of several farms that has joined the Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster to promote the work farmers are doing to collectively look at ways to conserve the wildlife that their farms support.
This farm has dairy cows, sheep and some arable with fields bordered by hedgerows. The hedgerows have been in the same place for over a hundred years and provide highways for birds to move from wood to wood. Marsh Tit is one species highly reliant upon hedgerows – without them, the birds won’t cross open fields. This leads to small populations becoming isolated and as pressure on land increases such populations can die out altogether – those hedgerows are so important!
We put a net in a sheltered spot, in one corner of a field and as we headed to set the next net a Barn Owl crossed our path, no doubt heading to roost to avoid the kites and buzzards which were just waking up.
We set nets at two feeders and these along with our corner site caught 52 birds. We ringed a beautiful male Yellowhammer and two Marsh Tits along with Blue, Coal and Great Tits. A handful of Dunnocks and a Robin rounded out the species’ list.
Having seen half-a-dozen Yellowhammer the previous week it was disappointing not to see them again. But there’s plenty of farm for them to roam and we were just unlucky on the day.