The first calm and sunny day of 2020 drew me to SML like a moth to a flame. After two weeks of dull, wet and windy weather confining me to home, I was starting to get cabin fever and, although bright conditions make the nets more visible and can reduce catches, knowing that the forecast for the next week is grim saw me slopping through the mud at 8am. In the not too distant past decent numbers of Reed Buntings roosted in the reedbed in winter and up to nine birds could be found together in the same net. However, these have declined significantly in recent years and, apart from the odd Cetti’s Warbler, the reedbed nets are not very productive in mid-winter. Consequently, I decided to try Crest ride at the wooded, eastern end of the reserve as an alternative, which provided a quarter of the birds trapped.
Catches in previous Januarys have ranged between 12 and 73 birds, depending partially on weather conditions and the number of visits, but principally on the presence or absence of chironomid midge swarms. Midges were few and far between today and the number of birds trapped reflected this with a final total of 28 of which just 14 were new. Five of the re-traps were Firecrests, a bird which manages to brighten even the dullest of days. Birds processed: 3 Blue Tit, 1 Bullfinch, 8 Chiffchaff, 1 Dunnock, 5 Firecrest, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Great Tit, 1 Robin, 1 Song Thrush and 2 Wren.