March 5th 2022

Male Firecrest

The driest, sunniest day for some time with an ideal north-easterly breeze was only let down slightly by the wind intensity, which was borderline for the most exposed net rides. Nevertheless, thirty birds were trapped, dominated as usual by Chiffchaffs. These were a mix of lingering, wintering birds and returning, local breeders. Some of the returning females, identified by their ring numbers, were already losing feathers from their brood patches and were particularly porky, weighing in at over 10g. Two female Blackcaps were trapped as well, several weeks earlier than local breeders usually begin to return. Perhaps these were wintering birds on their way home to central Europe. A relaxed morning’s ringing was rounded off by the first Firecrest of the year and final totals were: 2 Blackcap, 4 Blue Tit, 17 Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Great Tit and 2 Long-tailed Tit.

Finally, I know I bang on about how excessive ditching has lowered the water table in the reedbed and how Nick Townsend and I are doing our best to restore the floodplain but, if you look at the depth of the ditches in the following three photos and the density of dry reed stems, it’s pretty obvious that the deeper the ditch the fewer the reeds.

Deep ditch – hardly any reeds
Medium ditch – 100m downstream – increased density of reed
Shallow ditch – a further 100m downstream – healthy reedbed!

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