Our two woodland edge feeding stations have seen some interesting changes this season. The most unexpected is the appearance of Tree Sparrows at the Challan site. In five years of ringing we have not caught a Tree Sparrow but this season so far we have caught four. House Sparrows are rare at both sites with only 11 caught over the past five years.
So far it has been a rather poor season for Coal Tits at both sites.The average autumn catch at the Teddy Heights site over 12 years has been 85 but this year it is only 40. Challan has also seen a decline but not quite as bad. The retrap of a Coal Tit in its sixth year shows site faithfulness. Both Blue Tits and Great Tits are slightly down. Marsh Tits are a speciality of this area, last year we caught 29 different birds at Challan. To date they are slightly below average at both sites. Judging by the amazing number of berries there are this autumn there is probably a good supply of natural foods available.
Long-tailed Tits though are doing well with 31 so far this season at Teddy Heights compared to an average of 12. On our last visit we caught 13, of these two had been ringed together four years previously.
Our colour ringed study of Nuthatch at Challan shows there are eight birds visiting the feeders. But it is the usual pattern of about half visiting regularly which probably have local territories and usually come in pairs. While others visit much less frequently and have their territory further away. There are also unringed birds visiting.
Starling have become regular feeder visitors at Challan over the past two years. In a catch of seven this week we had a Stavanger (Norway) ringed bird.