You never know what you gonna get

Cranwich was sitting under grey clouds. What had happened to summer? A week of greyness and rain meant the water in the pools was up, and the puddles full so that those in wellies had to be careful when crossing through to avoid water spilling over their tops. The conditions though were actually pretty good for mist netting, not bright sunshine and only a slight gusty breeze occasionally billowing the fine mesh nets. We were well into the Constant Effort sessions, setting nets in the same place for the same time, once every 10 days. The reed warblers were well and truly into their breeding around the sites and the wader or wetsuit clad team were busy monitoring them, along with the other nests on site. As the morning progressed a steady stream of birds were returned to the ringing station. Numerous reed warblers were brought back and ringed with not only the metal ring but as part of the ongoing project onsite, fitted with a colour ring also. Some already had metal rings on; birds ringed as chicks in the nest now returning to Cranwich as breeding adults. For the first time we also caught a sedge warbler, originally ringed in 2012 as a chick in a nest, one of only eight ringed that year. Now, four years later it is back as a breeding adult!

The warblers kept coming; next up a Cetti’s warbler. This individual we have seen and caught a number of times since it arrived last autumn. He is all the more obvious for wearing a yellow colour ring! Originally ringed at nearby Lakenheath as part of a project there, this bird has decided Cranwich suits is breeding habitat needs much better.

Cetti’s Warbler

The other warbler making a significant appearance this year at Cranwich is the garden warbler. Seemingly a plain and boring bird being small and brownish grey, with most guides saying no distinguishing features being the main ID feature! Get up close and they are one of the prettiest birds in such a subtle way. Soft brown, grey and white feathers, a dark eye and an almost friendly expression. We have caught quite a few over the last few weeks. Today though one turned up with a ring on already, but the ring did not say British Museum (all British rings have a unique number and the British Museum address) it said ICONA MADRID! This bird was originally ringed in Spain! Garden warblers spend the winter south of the Sahara, passing through countries like Spain on their migration.

Spanish ringed Garden Warbler!

It was turning into a very eventful ringing session! There were of course the usual great and blue tits, as well as a willow tit. Then there was a Jay, only the third ringed at Cranwich. Topping of the morning was a family party of long-tailed tits. The young with their chocolatey brown feathers and bright red eye ring, looking a bit weathered and worn after raising so many chicks.

Beautiful Jay

By now the sun had broken through the clouds and it went from a slightly chilly morning to boiling heat in an instant. The morning’s session was over and it was time to retreat to some shade and well-earned rest, ready to do it all again in during the next session.

Juvenile Long-tailed Tit

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