The first light of the day filled the air, pushing back the shadows of night. The sky that was revealed was cloudy, a swirl of greys, pale blues and just a hint of pink over the horizon. A slight breeze stirred the leaves on the trees and rustled through the reeds, rippling the water on the pools. The dawn chorus resounded through the morning. Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Robin, Chiffchaff, Blackcap. Punctuated by the loud shrill call of the Wren and the startling Cetti’s Warbler. Overhead a Hobby hawked through the sky over the pools, Swifts screamed high up and masses of Rooks cawed. From across the site, corner to corner, the distinctively familiar disyllabic song of the Cuckoo competed with each other. They are all the most very welcome songs of our summer birds. It had been over 7 weeks, but finally we are back in the reed beds at Cranwich and it felt really good.
The change in the site since the last time we were there is immense. Trees have filled out, blooming with green leaves, the reeds have grown adding lush green growth to the rattly brown stems of last years stalks. The grasses have grown tall and the bushes have well bushed out. Everything is green and growing. There are occasional patches of flowers such as ox-eye daisies and ragged robin. Despite the dry weather the water levels are relatively high.
While things might appear normal with our return to ring at this site, appearances can be deceiving. Things are not quite ‘business as usual’. We have missed the first official Constant Effort Site (CES) period and while we might now be allowed to ring at such sites it must be in line with social distancing guidelines. As such we are not here with the usual full accompaniment of ringers. It is just us, now with two little ones in tow.
Still we are both experienced ringers and the site is manageable especially early on in the season before the fledglings have started kicking around.
So there we were. Dawn breaking, the site full of some of our most familiar birds, nets up and open. It did not disappoint. In fact we caught more birds than any other previous visits at this time (period 2 of the CES sessions). Most of this is attributed to the two flocks of Long-tailed Tits, totalling 25 of the 44 birds caught. It appears this early breeder has done very well this year and there were plenty of fluffy young birds, with their chocolatey brown heads and red eye ring.
It was wonderful after all this time (rightly so) in lockdown to catch Reed and Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff and Garden Warbler. Not too shabby for a certain littlest Barber’s first ringing session at Cranwich. Hopefully the first of many.