It was an opportunity too good to miss when the wind dropped a little overnight, so I planned a visit to Out Rawcliffe to ring the nest of Willow Warbler chicks and if the wind allowed, put a few nets up. I looked in my notebook to recall my last mist netting session before the holiday in Menorca and the later spell of atrocious weather back home and found it was exactly a month ago on 25th April. So with a couple of nets up and a little luck I might catch a few birds missed in the intervening period, new and late arrivals both.
Newly in since our early May visits were Garden Warblers, with 2 singing loudly from the ideal for them, more wooded part of the planation, and I caught one of the two. Other new birds caught were 2 Whitethroat and 2 Sedge Warbler plus a fine male Blackbird.
Recaptures were 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Whitethroat, all the Willow Warblers with previous histories from 2008, 2009, 2010 and early season 2011.
The Garden Warbler is probably a bit of a birder’s bird and a favourite of mine, so subtle in its shades of green, grey and yellow, so always immaculate, untroubled and calm in the hand. It is a difficult species to see well in its woodland habitat, and in bird books and guides it is often cruelly described as best recognised by its lack of field characteristics! Also because of what are to some people its unremarkable looks, the unfortunate Latin name Sylvia borin can become a source of jokes. However, to those in the know the Garden Warbler is anything but boring.
The Willow Warbler nest had 6 chicks of an ideal size to ring. Ringing nestlings gives so much more information than ringing full grown birds. With nestlings, and particularly when a nest record is completed, we know their precise age, exactly when and where they were born, the number of siblings, and sometimes the identity of their parents.
Earlier in the morning when I arrived on the farm I disturbed 2 Little Owls hunting around the farm machinery and buildings. Both used high perches and watched for prey items on the ground below, occasionally dropping down when they saw something of interest. Unfortunately I didn’t have more time to spend, so took a couple of hurried shots before heading up to the ringing spot, then I left them to their hunting.