Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Year of the Cett'

This is the year of the Cetti at Slapton. They first turned up in the nets back in the late 1970s, about a year before I was born, to be as precise as I wish to be. Since then the number ringed each year has described the sort of upwards trend you'd associate with a profile of - well, of somewhere fairly gentle. Not Lincolnshire - that's flatline flat - but perhaps if someone really heavy sat on the western border of Lincolnshire and the eastern side rose in sympathy, that sort of incline. Anyway, this year, it's as if the north face of the Eiger has suddenly been shunted into Lincolnshire - we've had over a hundred (count 'em!) Cetti's in the nets, over 60 of which are new birds. And there's still a good month left to the season...

Otherwise, we had the pleasant surprise of a Lesser Whitethroat in the nets last weekend, along with over a hundred Chiffchaff (no less than 99 new birds, plus a handful of recaptures from previous weekends' efforts). This season has turned into a very decent year in general, Swallow roosts aside, suggesting that we've finally had a good breeding season to repair some of the damage of the last two or three. About time...

Lesser Whitethroat

Yellow Wagtail. Not the easiest to age in the hand, this bird appears to be a first-winter male

This weekend began with some promise: a Yellow Wagtail caught in the alba wagtail roost is the first we've caught for a couple of years, but Saturday brought disastrously windy weather - we managed, somehow, to open a handful of nets on Saturday morning for the paltry return of 18 birds. The day was so quiet, we ended up photographing spiders...:

The day was rescued when the wind dropped in the evening and about 40 Swallows were ringed out of a passage of a couple of thousand; still no roost, though. Fortunately the weather was more clement this morning. We opened up at a civilised 6.15 and the catch was quite steady. Nothing spectacular until a Tawny Owl decided that night-time was for wusses and dived into one of our reedbed nets mid-morning. Spectacularly, this is only the fourth Tawny to be ringed here: the last one was in 1966! Much appreciated...

Tawny Owl. What a cracking bird in the hand, or out of it... Photo courtesy of Tim Frayling

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