Mist Netting at Millennium Wood: 25 June 2023

On 25th June, a group of volunteers certified by the British Trust for Ornithology returned to Millennium Wood to carry out mist netting. Mist netting is an important tool for monitoring species diversity, relative abundance and population size and is harmless to birds when carried out by trained professionals.

The group ringed 15 new birds and re-trapped a dunnock first ringed in December 2021. The dunnock is a female evidenced by a brood patch (an area of bare skin over the abdomen used to brood the eggs and young chicks to keep them warm. When she was ringed, she was aged as hatched that year making her 2 years old now. 

The 15 new birds were all recently fledged juvenile Great and Blue tits and one Robin. Their plumage is strikingly different to adult birds yet recognisable as the species. 

The most interesting juvenile bird we caught was a Blackcap. Blackcap are warblers, most usually a summer visitor to the UK using long summer days to breed. The bird in the photo is recently hatched which probably means adult blackcap are breeding in or very close to the wood, which suggests conditions are good for them to have chosen the area as breeding grounds. Blackcap are slowly becoming resident in the UK – some birds have been wintering here for a few years, using garden feeders during the autumn and winter.

When Blackcap fledge, they all have chestnut coloured feathers on their heads. Eventually, males will develop black feathers and females a darker brown on their head. The bird pictured below had not yet started to develop those feathers, so it may migrate or stay around for winter.

The volunteers thanked everyone for allowing them access to Millennium Wood and they will return later in the year.

Take a look at the following images to see some of the fantastic birds that were recorded during the visit: