After days of rain, grey skies and general dampness, Monday dawned on a clear, pale blue sky, streaks of washed out pinkish orange hinting where that elusive sun would appear. The reed bed at Cranwich was brimming with water, fuller than it had been in a long time. Straw coloured reeds with fresh green shoots glowed in the morning sunshine; trees, the limbs now filling out with new green leaves, swayed over the deep, murky water.
The site is a series of old gravel pits, the excavated areas having filled with water, reeds, trees and bushes. The reeds fill the edges of these pools, fringes encircling the water and between them runs a network of paths, land bridges, now soggy and muddy from the rain.
|Cranwich reed bed|
Here a dedicated (some may call crazy) group of us run a constant effort site (CES) and a reed warbler project. The CES means we set up and run the same nets, for the same amount of time at 12 day intervals throughout the spring and summer. Standardising the ringing in this way means we can calculate changes in bird populations. The reed warbler project started in 2010 and aims to find and monitor reed warbler nests within the site in order to assess breeding success and, along with the mist netting, dispersal of young.
Although one CES session had already been run in mid-April, at that point the reed warblers had not yet returned. With reports springing up around us of birds being back, it was time for the second visit.
As Monday morning progressed it was not just us moving around the reed bed, sloshing through the water in our waders and wellies…swifts and cuckoos had returned to the skies, birds of all kinds were singing in the reeds and surrounding woodland, and there in our nets sedge, garden and….reed warblers! They were back…time for the carnage of a summer nesting in a reed bed to begin once more…
|The focus of our nesting project...|
the reed warbler