25th and 28th July 2019

It’s always been more difficult to write this blog when the ringing hasn’t produced anything out of the ordinary. Two baking hot days at the end of the recent heatwave resulted in 109 new birds of 12 species: 5 Blackbird, 10 Blackcap, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 3 Dunnock, 3 Great Tit, 28 Reed Warbler, 3 Robin, 25 Sedge Warbler, 10 Willow Warbler and 12 Wren. I suppose I should be grateful for 82 warblers in two days!

Monday 15th July 2019

Juvenile Blackcap

There are no prizes for working out the sex of this juvenile Blackcap, trapped today, as it undergoes its post-juvenile moult with new black crown feathers replacing the juvenile brown ones! Ringing was steady today with no surprises. 49 new birds of 12 species were trapped including 36 warblers. The final totals were: 5 Blackcap, 2 Blackbird, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Chaffinch, 14 Chiffchaff, 4 Dunnock, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Great Tit, 13 Reed Warbler, 1 Robin, 3 Sedge Warbler and 3 Wren. There was also 1 control Reed Warbler from Slapton Ley.

Wednesday 10th July 2019

I started the day by clearing more vegetation and overhanging branches from the net rides before the temperature started to creep upwards. Apart from that it was a fairly standard day’s ringing for July with 69 birds of 13 species trapped. New birds included: 7 Blackbird, 3 Blackcap, 7 Blue Tit, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 19 Chiffchaff, 3 Dunnock, 1 Great spotted Woodpecker, 13 Reed Warbler, 2 Robin, 3 Sedge Warbler and 2 Wren.

Thursday 4th July 2019

The neatly mown boardwalk

Returning to SML after a two-week tour of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia, I decided to start at the seaward end of the reserve because I had cleared the net rides there on my last visit. New growth was quickly dealt with and the nets were opened by 06:00. However, birds were few and far between and with only 4 trapped in the first 90 minutes, I decided to transfer operations to the eastern end. The paths had been mown in my absence and the boardwalk was also clear, which made getting about easier. However, the low rainfall, which has been causing arable farmers and gardeners concerns recently, had done little to reduce plant growth within the marsh and the rides at the eastern end had all but disappeared under a sea of green.

Marsh Ride before, during and after clearing.

I managed to clear enough vegetation to get the nets opened before 9am and was rewarded with a steady stream of birds. The high temperature and a force 4-5 NE breeze required the nets to be emptied frequently to prevent birds suffering in the heat or becoming more tangled as the nets blew around. Safely bagged and transferred into shade, processing was pretty well continuous between net rounds and my lunchtime sandwiches remained un-eaten until mid-afternoon! Chiffchaffs dominated the 80 new birds ringed with 44 trapped. These were exclusively young birds, the adults presumably keeping a low profile as they complete their post-breeding moult. Tucked in amongst them was a single Willow Warbler, slightly yellower and its identity confirmed after a quick check of the wing formula.

Final total: 80 birds – 2 Blackbird, 2 Blackcap, 1 Blue Tit, 44 Chiffchaff, 4 Dunnock, 1 Great Tit, 5 Long-tailed Tit, 6 Reed Warbler, 1 Robin, 8 Sedge Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler and 5 Wren.