South Milton Ley seemed a little tame today as I made my first visit after returning from a 10-day birding tour of Bulgaria. The trip had been organised by BirdID Norway (see links) and subsidised by the Norwegian government. Costing just £260, 215 species were recorded in total with 120 on the last day alone and 20 species of raptor. Migration was in full flow with many flocks of pelicans, storks and various raptor species passing overhead. We also managed to get to grips with a few species, which had eluded us on our previous visit, including Black Woodpecker, Nutcracker, Thrush Nightingale and Collared Flycatcher.
Migration was certainly not in full flow at the Ley today and re-traps dominated the birds caught. Many of these were warblers returning to breed at the site. The net rides required a fair bit of work before I could open the nets as the Hemlock Water Dropwort, which is prolific around the margins of the reedbed, had grown considerably in my absence and the first new growth of the phragmites was also beginning to appear. Fortunately, the contractor who maintains the paths around the drier, eastern end of the reserve, also mows my two net rides there, which saves me a lot of effort. At the end of the session I cleared the net rides at the wetter, western end of the reserve. These are easier to maintain as the higher salinity prevents anything but phragmites from growing and the young shoots are easily dealt with using my trusty, rechargeable hedge-trimmer.
There were 13 new birds and 23 re-traps: 4 Blackbird, 3 Blackcap, 3 Blue Tit, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Dunnock, 1 Great Tit, 1 Great spotted Woodpecker, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 3 Reed Warbler, 4 Robin, 7 Sedge Warbler.