After a couple of weeks of inclement weather and last week spent in north Devon (nice views of Wheatear being the highlight, the almost complete absence of Buzzards being a real nadir) it was good to get out for a ringing session at Lower Moor Farm.
I was joined by Ellie Jones for the session: always handy having the reserve manager as one of your C-permit holders and for dealing with the members of the public. In the event it was a quiet, but very enjoyable, session. We managed to establish our favourite movies of all time, discussed in depth the acting qualities, or lack thereof, of Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves, and process a few birds over the course of 5 hours.
Any session during which an Otter swims sedately past, diving to release the tell-tale stream of bubbles as it approached the pipe between Mallard Lake and Swallow Pool, is a good session, no matter how few birds you catch.
The birding highlights were: a good number of Chiffchaff already on site, one a retrapped bird from last summer. Unfortunately, you never know with early Chiffchaffs whether they are actually early migrants or if they over-wintered here. There are always some to be found in the Cotswold Water Park over the winter: one ringed at Lower Moor on the 7th January 2017 was clearly an over-wintering bird. We recaptured a Blackcap that was ringed as an adult at Lower Moor three summers ago. This bird is almost certainly a returning summer visitor: and the earliest recorded at the site. Over-wintering Blackcaps have been shown, from ringing records, to be primarily from central Europe, but I suppose there is always the chance that some of our summer visitors do remain behind, given how mild our winters have become.
The final birding highlight was a singing male Cetti’s Warbler. After a stunning first set of catches in 2015 the numbers ever since have been disappointing. Last year, although we did catch and ring one specimen, there was no singing male on site. Like the Blackcap, this is the earliest that we have caught one on site by two months.
The list for the day was: Blue Tit 1; Great Tit (1); Long-tailed Tit (2); Wren (1); Dunnock (1); Robin 1; Cetti’s Warbler 1; Blackcap (1); Chiffchaff 6(1). Totals: 9 birds ringed from 4 species; 7 birds retrapped from 6 species, making 16 birds processed from 9 species.