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.
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.