With an intense jet stream barrelling towards southern Britain and forecast to loop around the whole country for the next couple of weeks, trapping an area of low pressure, it was today or nothing in ringing terms. Glorious sunny conditions, low winds and civilised temperatures prevailed and things got off to a good start with a Water Rail the first bird trapped in one of the nets beside the sewage works. I had to leg it as these rarely stay in a net for long, their large feet enabling them to run along a shelf and straight out of the end. It’s been a while since I’ve ringed one of these and I had forgotten just how strong their leg muscles are.
The bird was a first year, aged by the off-white streak running from the base of the upper mandible to the upper part of eye, a white chin and fawn iris and sexed as a female, based on a wing length of 116mm. Compare this with an adult, trapped in December 2018, with breast and chin slate grey and a reddish iris.
Excitement over, things settled down. Numbers were low and, in contrast to my last visit, Blackcaps were completely absent. With things tailing off, I packed up at midday. In the end 39 birds of 10 species were trapped: 3 Blue Tit, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 20 Chiffchaff, 1 Dunnock, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Great Tit, 5 Meadow Pipit, 1 Robin, 1 Water Rail, 1 Wren.