Start of the season

In the dark bedroom the alarm went off, waking me with a jolt. I rolled over and stopped it, thinking what on earth am I doing setting it for this hour. It was early. Too early. Baby had been sleeping through the night for the last couple months, so why was my alarm going off with the time in the 4:40 am category!

The answer. That unending passion for nature that started with an encounter with a dolphin and has guided me over the last 25 years or so…. Leading me to whales, dolphins, birds and everything in between.

With the arrival of spring and the clocks moving forward it was time to head back to the reed bed and start our season of constant effort ringing at Cranwich. Same nets, in the same place, for the same amount of time, once every 10 days from now till September. For the rest of the country their constant effort ringing may not actually start for a month or so, but the extra sessions we run either side of the main period allows us to catch the arrival and departure of our main study species, the Reed Warbler.

It was still dark when we arrived on site 40 minutes later from that alarm (not bad shifting considering we have a 20 month old in tow!). The sky directly above was still a deep midnight blue, with a sprinkling of twinkling stars. On the eastern horizon the sky was lighter, turning infinitesimally lighter with every passing minute. The trees and reeds remained dark in shadows, while a cool, hazy blue mist hung low over the dark water of the pools. Despite the darkness, birds had already started to sing. Wren, Chiffchaff, Blackbird to name a few. Then from close by in the nearest trees a loud burst of song from a Cetti’s Warbler. The site was waking up.

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Finally the sun began to peak through the trees and reeds, turning the mist a shade of very pale gold as it continued to rise off the still dark water. The winter’s habitat management had made a real difference to the site, removing some of the taller trees and overgrowing, choking sapplings, opening up the reed beds.

Despite the warm spring days of late, it was chilly this morning and it took a while for the birds to start moving around. It was a slow start for the ringers. But by the end of the session, when the sun had just about burned off the remaining mist, we had caught 16 birds. For this site at this time of year, at the first session of the season, that’s actually not too bad. Mostly Blue Tits and Reed Buntings, and a couple of Great Tits, we did however also catch the first Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff of the season, which were lovely additions.

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Cetti’s Warbler

With the sun finally up above the trees and finally starting to warm us up, it was time to head home. While most people we were just about waking up, for us it felt like the middle of the afternoon….


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