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Disastrous year

Yesterday proved to be a completely Disastrous day whilst out ringing my Pied Flycatcher and Redstart chicks. I was accompanied by Gareth (my ringer) and we were assisted by my friends daughter Izzy. Izzy is a twelve year old keen ornithologist who absolutely loves helping out, and it is a joy to have her involved.

Out of the 56 Pairs of Pied Flycatchers, only a handful managed to raise a full brood. Numerous nest boxes contained failed broods or very small broods hanging on. I can't tell you how deflated I felt witnessing so many dead chicks and low numbered broods. These tiny little birds only manage 1 clutch, so to travel thousands of miles back to Wales from Central Africa and fail to raise a brood is devastating.

Only two positives from yesterday was my Redstarts had managed to raise full broods despite the poor conditions. The other positive was one of the female adult Pied Flycatchers we managed to trap on the nest was rung by us as an adult bird back in 2018. This means she may have been born as far back as 2017 which would make her 7 years old. This is pretty amazing data and when you think this tiny little bird has travelled back and forth central Afrika and Gwent 7 times makes it so impressive.

My conclusion and observations from yesterday's disaster is that the small chicks could not cope with the unseasonably cold temperatures, especially at my higher elevated sites. It was also evident that the lack of invertebrates, insects, Caterpillas and Spiders present played a part, many of which had not hatched due to the cold temperatures. The lack of food and unseasonably cold temperatures was almost certainly to blame.

I was totally deflated yesterday after all the work and effort that had gone into preparing for the breeding season, although my attention is now concentrated on ringing my Barn Owl chicks. If I am totally honest I am not looking forward to it. Barn Owls have almost certainly been affected by the cold and ve

ry wet conditions we have experienced with no positive signs of warmer temperatures forecast any time soon.

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