Tuesday 30th March 2021. Back in business!

The first stage of the easing of the current lockdown restrictions on travel came into force yesterday and, armed with a copy of an email from the BTO making it clear that voluntary work and environmental monitoring are both exempt from the covid 19 restrictions, I left the boundaries of Plymouth for the first time in four months and made my way to SML.

The bridge at Marsh Ride prior to being dragged back across the two metre gap

I wasn’t sure what was going to greet me, knowing that the bridge to Marsh Ride had been swept off its mountings by floodwater back in December and half-expecting some of the rides to be blocked with fallen branches and vegetation. In the event, things weren’t too bad. Unlike the first lockdown, there had been little plant growth during the winter and nets were quickly erected beside the sewage works and in Blaca Ride. Accessing Marsh Ride was more problematic but I had come equipped and managed to haul the heavy wooden bridge back across the two metre wide ditch and onto its mountings about thirty minutes later. With hindsight, it was lucky that the bridge hadn’t been swept away completely and Nick Townsend and I will hammer in posts to secure it and prevent a recurrence.

Back on its mountings!

From the ringing point of view, things were less than perfect. The north-easterly breeze, blowing down the valley, was stronger than forecast and there was no evidence of visible migration. Despite this, a pair of Reed Buntings, Chiffchaffs and the odd Blackcap were singing in the reserve and two male Cirl Buntings were vocal just outside the boundaries. Twenty nine birds were trapped, just over half of which were new, including 9 Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler. The re-traps were dominated by Dunnocks and Wrens but also included 2 Cetti’s Warblers, and 2 returning Chiffs, a Willow warbler and a Blackcap. Final totals were: 3 Blackbird, 1 Blackcap, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff, 4 Dunnock, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Robin, 1 Willow warbler and 5 Wren.