Yesterday 22 July we carried out another of the regular Constant Effort Site ringing sessions at Ashleworth, where no hay has as yet been cut on the GWT reserve.
Outwardly, it appeared that there were few birds about: scrapes almost dry, little or no birdsong, not much activity. But the ringing showed that in fact there were large numbers of recently fledged young birds present, recently emerged from the nest, often just completing their post juvenile moult, before setting off on their long migration journeys to the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa. It is very likely that all these juveniles were locally bred, as they would hardly move off before completing this moult, and almost none of them showed any additional fat (which migrants arriving from outside the reserve would be likely to do). So, this represents a snapshot of breeding attempts and successes. After Friday’s fairly heavy rain, conditions were surprisingly favourable: windless in the early morning, with a light cloud covering which made the nets more difficult for the birds to see. We had a catch of 93 birds, slightly above the average for the mid July visit, and made up as follows:
- One juvenile Kingfisher; unusually, no Redstarts caught, though there had been several adults earlier in the season; one juvenile Grasshopper Warbler (particularly interesting, as on earlier visits we had caught an adult male and female in breeding condition: this is a very strong indication of local breeding); no Reed Warblers caught or heard, which suggests that they did not attempt to nest this year; nine Sedge Warblers (mainly juveniles, but a couple of ringed adults, caught earlier in the season; so they haven’t left yet, but will be going soon); as many as 32 Whitethroats (all but one were juveniles, showing that this species has increased greatly in the hay meadow hedges in recent years); seven Blackcaps (two adults and five juveniles, probably birds that had nested in slightly higher ground round the edges of the reserve, and were now moving into lower areas; like Whitethroat, more than usual); no Lesser Whitethroats this time, though we have caught juveniles on previous visits; eleven Chiffchaffs (every man jack of them a juvenile); two Willow Warblers (one adult and one juvenile); nine Reed Buntings (again, all juveniles; late hay cutting may have helped this species which nests in long vegetation in hayfields). Also, as usual, a variety of resident breeders: one juvenile Dunnock; seven Wrens (nearly all juveniles); three juvenile Robins; one juvenile Great Tit; one juvenile Blue Tit; five Long-tailed Tits, mainly juveniles; one adult Linnet; one juvenile Goldfinch.
Few other birds of note around the reserve: one adult male Peregrine perched on a dead willow; about 20 House Martins and 20 Swallows hawking insects (probably locally bred juveniles as well).Mervyn Greening, Mike Smart
Mervyn Greening, Mike Smart