June 2022

So far, June has proved to be a month of mixed fortunes. On Tuesday 7th June, the most benign weather forecast for a week saw me arrive at South Milton Ley at 05:15. The Met Office had predicted just a 10% chance of a light shower around dawn, so I wasn’t surprised when it started to rain after I’d got the first four nets up. Furling these, I retired to the car to sit it out. Two and a half hours of constant rain later, I finally emerged into a well-watered world. The persistent rainfall had caused a lot of reed and hemlock water dropwort to fall into Marsh Ride and it was a slow, soggy process to clear the vegetation and unfurl the nets. It was after nine am before I processed my first birds. In the end just 17 were trapped, with 9 new and 8 re-traps.

This was not the start to the month that I’d hoped for. Things picked up however, on the 14th, when I received a long-awaited email from the BTO. Way back in September 2021, during a visit to Portland Bird Observatory, I was persuaded that I should apply for my A-permit. After ringing over 13,000 birds it was probably about time to progress! This proved to be a slow process, due to several factors including my trainer being ill, the independent assessor taking two months to fill in his part of the application form and the Ringing Standards Select Committee losing two members and being unable to operate.

To cut a long story short, the RSSC finally approved my application, commenting ““The members of RSSC all commented on the excellent quality of your references and your excellent level of experience.” Whoopee! It’s been a long wait, 9 months from start to finish, for a process which should only take about six weeks. In reality, it’s not going to make much difference. Almost all of my ringing in Devon is done alone. It will enable me to have full control of my data and order my own rings, which will make things much more streamlined.

Two subsequent visits to South Milton Ley, on the 15th and 23rd, were much more productive, resulting in two of the highest totals I have ever had at the site in June. It was demanding work though, with 10 nets to cover and the most distant of these around 400m apart. I reckon I must have walked about 10km each day during the net rounds. Totals for the month so far are:

169 birds of 19 species were trapped. Of these 131 were new and 38 were re-traps. New birds included: 12 Blackbird, 22 Blackcap, 13 Blue Tit, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 37 Chiffchaff, 7 Dunnock, 1 Greenfinch, 6 Great Tit, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Linnet, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 6 Reed Warbler, 13 Robin, 1 Sedge Warbler, 8 Wren.

Whilst the totals are pretty impressive by my modest standards, 113 of the 131 new birds, or 86%, were this years’ juveniles, suggesting that the breeding season so far has been pretty successful!