Wet Suited and Booted

I am lying on one of the only patches of dry grass at Cranwich, eyes closed and listening to the sounds of the reed bed around me. The sun is warm on my face, the wind rustling the leaves of the trees and the reeds. I hear pigeons cooing in the woods behind, the rattling song of a reed warbler nearby. A dragonfly zips past me, its wings flutter with a distinctive sound, like crumpling plastic. I open my eyes as a honking group of geese whoosh overhead. I catch sight of a beautiful comma butterfly delicately perched on the head of a pale purple thistle; its wings deep orange and boldly black.

Comma butterfly enjoying the sunshine

For once I am overdressed in my waders, and I am relegated to the dwindling banks. The volume of rain this summer has finally taken its toll. The network of tracks between the pools are flooded with knee deep water and running streams. The bridges along the net rides simply float, no longer attached to the banks. Where once you could wade through the fringe of reeds in water up to your hips it was now up to your neck and wetsuits were the order of the day.

The flooded tracks

I can hear Lee and Dave in the reed bed, not wading to the nests but swimming! The water is cold, you can tell from the pitch of their voices. Searching is not easy with most of the markers under water and the whole landscape within the reeds altered.

At the far end of the site only nests greater than 80 cm above the original water level have survived, most are below this. Submerged, the nests look ghost-like in the green water. It is sad to see them empty or worse…

But it is not all carnage and devastation as we come across some nests perilously close to the waters surface but with chicks alive inside and still with a chance of fledging…

So close to the edge…but surviving
One more brood of reed warblers successfully ringed
by the wet suited and booted Lee and Dave
 

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