11th October 2018 – An update

It’s been difficult to summon up the enthusiasm to keep this blog up to date recently after a series of uneventful and uninspiring ringing sessions. I spent the middle part of September at Portland Bird Observatory, where, in the 5 days out of 12 when it wasn’t blowing a gale, I managed to trap just 45 birds. The Observatory’s grand total for the same 5 days was a meagre 135. Birds just didn’t seem to be moving.

It hasn’t been much different since I returned to Devon with 98 birds of 14 species trapped in three sessions at SML between the 26th September and the 9th October and this total includes a high proportion of resident species. Apart from a handful of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps there were few migrants on the ground, although passage was clearly ongoing with groups of Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Siskins and hirundines overhead. One late Reed Warbler on 26th September proved to be just that, despite my best efforts to turn it into a Blyth’s Reed! I kept myself occupied by playing a Meadow Pipit tape beside a net on the edge of the reedbed. This is not an ideal setup for trapping the species, but it was reasonably successful with 23 ringed.

Totals for the three sessions were: 14 Blackcap, 7 Blue Tit, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Chaffinch, 14 Chiffchaff, 4 Dunnock, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Goldfinch, 4 Great Tit, 23 Meadow Pipit, 1 Reed Warbler, 4 Robin, 7 Swallow and 13 Wren.

News of a juvenile Isabelline Shrike, found on Thurlestone golf course yesterday, shows that the potential rewards are out there. Yellow-browed Warblers and crests have yet to reach Devon in any numbers and it was this time last year when the unprecedented influx of Firecrests began. Fingers crossed!

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