On a sharp and frosty morning

First ringing session of the season at Ashleworth Ham this morning, in surprisingly frosty and misty conditions, the sun not breaking through the mist over river and meadows until after ten.  The mist nets (to give them their full name) were not that effective in these conditions, since they were soon covered with frost, and the birds could see them; so only 16 birds were caught, half of them residents that had already been ringed in previous years (two Wrens, a Blue Tit, a Bullfinch and four Reed Buntings) but also a Willow Warbler; many of the birds (notably Reed Buntings) already in breeding condition, with brood patches forming.

Among birds seen and heard on the reserve, the Mute Swans are nest-building right in front of the hide, two Coot, three Lapwings, three Curlews bubbling, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming, one Cuckoo singing briefly, a couple of Swallows and three Sand Martins heading north, two Redstarts (the first of the year),  a late Fieldfare; plus at least two Blackcaps, three Willow Warblers and three Chiffchaffs, all singing.

Mike Smart, David Anderson and Mervyn Greening

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