Tuesday 1st December 2020

Sunrise at South Milton Ley

Today’s weather forecast was too good to ignore, with a light northerly breeze expected. Any wind direction between NW and NE is ideal for trapping Chiffchaffs by the sewage works at SML as the midges (and birds) concentrate on the leeward side of the plant where I have 30m of nets. Unfortunately, the prevailing SW wind usually means that the birds gather frustratingly on the other site of the works. Nothing is ever perfect though and the bright sunshine made the nets a little too obvious resulting in a lower catch than last Thursday, although another 19 Chiffs were processed, including the first Siberian Chiffchaff of the winter.

Siberian Chiffchaff

The other highlight was a 1st year male Sparrowhawk, caught in the bottom of Blaca net by just one leg. I approached it cautiously, not wishing to fall foul of its flailing talons or bill but, in the event, it was extracted quickly and without any blood spilled. I wasn’t so lucky when I processed it. A momentary lapse of concentration enabled it to latch the talons of its right foot onto the end of my right index finger. This is not the first time this has happened and I have had to be extricated from the grasp of a particularly aggressive Kestrel chick in the past. However, with no one else to assist and the bird increasing its grip every time I tried to free my hand, I had to use some initiative or let the bird go without weighing it. Fortunately, I was able to hold my pen in my mouth and use the tip to gently prise the hind claw off my finger whereupon the bird let go!

1st year male Sparrowhawk

Final totals were 36 birds with 28 new: 1 Blue Tit, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 18 Chiffchaff, 1 Dunnock, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Reed Bunting, 3 Robin, 1 Sparrowhawk and 5 Wren

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