Monday 21st September 2020 – A record breaker!

Living almost an hour away from South Milton Ley means that my ringing sessions require a degree of planning and lack the spontaneity of a local site where nets can be set up at short notice if the weather is favourable. Consequently, much time is spent studying wind and rain forecasts in an effort to select the best opportunities. With a light north-easterly breeze overnight, today seemed like my best shot for the week and with a scattering of early Yellow-browed Warblers from Shetland to Land’s End, I arrived full of optimism.

After a brisk start, things normally tail off as the morning progresses but today the birds kept coming without a pause. Six nets were just about manageable, although I had to break out extra bird bags at one point. Despite the numbers, there was little variety and no sign of anything more exotic than usual. It was somewhat frustrating to watch the first Water Rail of the autumn bounce straight out of the net in Marsh Ride but that’s life! There was little time for regrets though and 123 birds were processed in seven hours, a day record for me at the site, and one bird extracted, ringed and processed every 4 minutes! I didn’t even manage to grab a sandwich until there was a lull at around 2pm.

Chiffchaffs dominated the catch with smaller numbers of Blackcaps and Meadow Pipits making up the bulk of the rest. One of the Meadow Pipits was carrying a UK ring. Let’s hope it had travelled more than the 15km of my last control! The final tally was 123 birds of which 119 were new: 15 Blackcap, 15 Blue Tit, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 63 Chiffchaff, 1 Dunnock, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Great Tit, 15 Meadow Pipit, 3 Reed Warbler, 2 Robin, 1 Sedge Warbler and 2 Wren.

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