Monday, 11 May 2015

Long Live The Reed Warbler

Most people do not realise there is more Wildlife Trust land North of the A27 at Farlington Marshes, know as 'The North Field' this area is a mix of deciduous woodland, bramble scrub and Phragmites reed with the A27 thundering over the top of it. Traditionally holding a mixed head of resident and migrant birds, this is where we chose to ring on Sunday.

Marsh Depiction
Net ride
We arrived at 05:20 and made our way down to the field. We set up 6 nets in total, one being a large dog leg through the central path. This net has traditionally been the 'top performer' during our sessions north of the road.

Once we had finished erecting the nets we had a cuppa before making a net round.... having a chat while drinking our tea, Duncan expressed that he felt this should be a good session. Understatement of the day! The North field usually yields reasonable numbers of birds but has been a winter site for us predominantly due to ringing on the Point Field taking precedence in Spring and late Autumn & with Titchfield being our residence over the late summer/Autumn. Sunday we had 50 birds which is exceptional for the site. This kept us very busy indeed (lots of extraction experience for Amy and I) there were loads of migrants including Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Sedge and Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap as well as the more resident species such as Blue & Great Tits, Blackbird, Songthrush, Wrens and Cettis Warbler. There are now 4 different breeding male Cettis Warblers in the North field and at least 12 on the main reserve according to Jason. A real success story for these little skulkers.
Great Tit

Reed Warbler
The real story of the day unfolded after we had left the site. One of the re-trap Reed Warblers that we had processed during the day had an amazing story to tell that goes to show the value of the ringing performed by all the BTO volunteers across the UK & the rest of the world. She(for it was a female) was ringed originally by Jason on 19.07.08 when she was coded as a 6. She was the caught again the following week at the same site, then not seen again until she was trapped on Sunday. This makes her at least 8 years old this summer.
8 years worth of African migration journeys, 16 times she has crossed the Sahara and 16 times she has survived. If
Blue Tit
we take into account the species lays on average 3-5 eggs each brood, and have the ability to have multiple broods each year, she could have had 80 odd young in her lifetime so far. Her migration is around 3500 miles each way meaning in her lifetime she has traveled 56,000 miles in migration alone! Amazing!

On one of our net rounds I walked down a path with a stile at the end of it. A bird took off from the bottom step of the stile, slightly hawk like and dark mottled brown with white primary and tail spots. It flew west towards the playing fields with a slow zig zag flight. I am 90% sure it was a Nightjar and all the evidence supports this, but having been the only one to see the bird properly and even then briefly I'm not going to count it. Having seen Nightjar in the near dark seeing this bird in broad daylight threw me a little so I didn't get chance to call it to the others.

Overall an amazing session for us and I am looking forward to another session on the North field soon. Next weekend I am away on a course with the BTO but the weekend after we should be clear for another session weather permitting.

Entrance gate at the North Field

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