An inevitable consequence of the introduction of a hosepipe ban, I knew that the prolonged hot, dry spell was forecast to break this week and a cursory glance at the weather radar at 04:15 this morning would have been enough to send most people straight back to bed. However, ringers spend a lot of time studying weather and years of experience taught me that, despite acres of blue on the chart, less than 0.5mm/hr were being predicted. In reality, virtually no precipitation actually reached the ground.
A pity in a way, as I was hoping that a heavy shower might have dropped a few migrants, particularly as Aquatic Warblers seem to be popping up in reedbeds everywhere else across the SW. The last one recorded at South Milton was way back in 2011 and was the 10th bird I ever extracted from a mist net. As the new trainee, I definitely wasn’t going to get to ring it though! On the whole, migrants were far from obvious today. Playing a Tree Pipit tape didn’t entice a single bird towards a net either.
There were compensations. My Marsh Ride nets stretch across the reedbed for 48m and are bordered on their northern edge by South Milton stream, a boundary path and scattered hedgerow trees. I have been aware for some time that some migrants moved from tree to tree along the hedge rather than through the reedbed. Taking advantage of a natural gap, I have been able to clear a short ride and install a 6m superfine net. This is just beginning to prove its worth and today’s bonus bird was my first redstart trapped at SML for three years.
48 Birds trapped today: 3 Blackcap, 4 Blue Tit, 8 Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Redstart, 10 Reed Warbler, 4 Robin, 6 Sedge Warbler, 6 Willow Warbler, 1 Whitethroat and 4 Wren.