We are up before dawn, which at this time of year is early, too early some might say. A sliver of a crescent moon greets us as we drive east, shining in a velvety black, clear sky that is slowly turning an inky blue. The car park at Redgrave and Lopham Fen National Nature Reserve is, to no one’s surprise, empty as we pull in to await the rest of the ringing team.
As the shadows of the surrounding trees slowly come into focus the dawn chorus begins, the song of robins, blackbirds, song thrush, blackcap and many more break the quiet.
Dawn light filters across the landscape of pasture, woodland and fen as we drive to the ringing site through gate after gate. Rabbits appear in the low lying mist, their ghostly forms appearing and then disappearing as they scamper across the fields.
|The ringing team at Redgrave & Lopham Fen NNR|
The nets are set in the scrub and trees at the edge of a large reed bed, a sea of dun yellow stalks whose tops glow burnt orange as the sun finally breaks the horizon. A barn owl floats across the crests, dipping back and forth on silent wings.
|The stunning sedge warbler|
The ringing is good, enough to keep us ticking over, with a catch of warblers only just returned from their wintering quarters. Willow warblers, garden warbler, sedge warbler and whitethroats all fresh from Africa, blackcaps from either northern Africa or southern Europe.
|Equally stunning whitethroat|
The morning develops into a warm, bright spring day. The barn owl is replaced by three hobby, also recently returned from their winter travels, circling high over head.