Tuesday 21st January 2020

Two of my extra duties during the reed cut on Sunday, initially car park attendant and later a dash to a filling station for fuel for the cutting machines, enabled me to keep an eye on the Chiffchaffs around the sewage works. Numbers gradually rose as the morning progressed and peaked around midday and there were plenty around when the sun was at its highest. The current area of high pressure has led to sharp frosts, but the associated dry weather and light NE breeze are the perfect conditions for trapping beside the sewage works as both insects and birds drift towards the net rides.

Consequently, together with my wife Nikki, we deliberately arrived a little later than usual and set up the maximum number of nets possible downwind of the works. Numbers did not disappoint, and 53 birds were trapped in around four hours. Just over half of these were re-traps, which is normal here for this stage of the winter, but the total included 23 Chiffchaffs, 7 Firecrests and 4 Goldcrests. In fact, except for one female Bullfinch, all of the birds caught were insectivores highlighting the importance of the midge population breeding in the sewage works.

My long-suffering wife has always been supportive of my ringing and frequently accompanied me during my training, visiting Icklesham and even sleeping in a bird hide in Portugal for two weeks but she’s definitely not a fan of the early mornings! Today’s later start persuaded her to accompany me. I had forgotten how much easier it is to erect the nets with two people and how having someone else to scribe speeds up the ringing process so, although tiring, the day was much more relaxed than it might otherwise have been!

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