Tuesday 5th July

A hot and humid slog of a day. It started at 05:30 with extensive hacking back of vegetation to clear the net rides. At this time of year, the Hemlock Water Dropwort is dying back and unable to support its own weight. A bit of wind or heavy rain and the whole lot collapses into the reedbed rides. The drying seed heads on this umbellifer could have been designed to snag mist nets and must be removed carefully to avoid damage. My rechargeable hedge trimmer makes the work easier but it still takes time to clear all 50 metres. To add insult to injury, one of the willows beside the ride had put on a spurt of growth and the weight of the new leaves and branches was causing them to sag below the level of the top shelves, also risking entanglement and damage to the nets.  After a 400m round trip back to the car to collect a set of extendable loppers, the problem was resolved (at least until next year).

The net rides outside of the reedbed required minimal maintenance but it was still about 07:30 before all the nets were up. I had opened 156m, just about the max I can safely manage alone. If it were to get too busy, I always have the option of furling some of them. It may not sound a lot but, when I’m operating on my own, which is the norm for me, 70+ birds in the six hours I have the nets open represents one bird extracted and processed every 5 minutes. Today a 75 birds were trapped: 2 Blackbird, 12 Blackcap, 3 Blue Tit, 3 Cetti’s Warbler, 21 Chiffchaff, 1 Dunnock, 2 Great Tit, 10 Reed Warbler, 7 Robin, 2 Sedge Warbler, 12 Wren.

I finished off by confirming breeding of Common Blue Damselfly, the 13th species of Odonata to be identified in the reserve.

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