Thursday 26th October 2017

I managed to get to SML today on an overcast, murky, warm and humid morning, with light winds and wet roads, indicating that there had been showers overnight. Luckily I had been warned that the access path is now impassable to all but the most determined 4×4 and the deeply-rutted and water-filled track was certainly beyond the ground clearance of my little Daihatsu.  So a season of lugging my ringing kit onto the site begins! Although it requires two trips to get everything there, it’s only about 100 metres and downhill. The return journey at the end of a session is much less inviting!

The paths around the perimeter of the reserve have had their final cut for the year making walking the net rounds easier and very few reeds required clearing from marsh ride despite the gales while I was at Portland. The contractor who mows the eastern part of the reserve had also cut Crest ride for me. Although it was clear before, it’s now a touch wider than I would like and I also need to educate him that net rides need to be straight! Nothing my trusty rechargeable hedge trimmer can’t rectify though!

This is the time of year when, weather forecast permitting, I start to increase the number of nets. The reedbed rides become less productive, with primarily Chiffchaffs and Reed Buntings caught and the nets by the sewage treatment works are quiet until leaf fall and cold weather draws in wintering chiffs. The presence of a few Redwings feeding on berries in the hedgerows around the reserve convinced me to put up a 60’ net in Crest ride and the dulcet tones of the “Latvian love song” mp3 soon lured two into the nets. One was the first adult bird I have handled and it was nice to be able to compare it directly with the other, a first year bird.


Redwing tertials, adult left, 1st year right.

I also learnt that North Ronaldsay superfine nets are too stretchy for thrushes, making it hard work to extract their carpals. I’ve never been happy with the way North Ron nets are tethered only on the top shelf as all the mesh ends up at one end on windy days so I’m going to invest in a few nets from Merlin Ringing Supplies. I’ve seen these in use at Portland and, although the build quality is not quite as good as an Ecotone net, they do offer a much less expensive alternative. I will post some photos and a review once I’ve had some experience with them.

In total 50 new birds of 12 species were ringed including,  1 Cetti’s Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 9 Goldcrest, 6 Firecrest, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Redwing and 3 Reed Bunting. The six Firecrest are a record daily catch for the reserve.

Also on site, 4 Water Rail, 5 Mistle Thrush, 15 Redwing, 1 Cirl Bunting, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Passage, 750 Wood Pigeon, 20 Skylark, 50 Linnet, 12 Siskin, 30 Chaffinch.

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