17th September 2017 - Salisbury Plain (east)
After westerlies all week, it was interesting to see the wind switch round to the north and the skies to clear, at this time of year that means one thing, a big rush of migrants. Graham had ringed lots of Meadow Pipits the day before so we put up a Meadow Pipit triangle for the first time this year, the good thing with Meadow Pipits is that they start gaining momentum just as we have got through the early morning rush of Blackcaps.
The day started well with a Tawny Owl just as I was opening the nets. We had a strong team out today and I knew we would be able to safely manage any potential catch but today did push the team a little but I have to say that I was totally impressed with how good this team have become.
We ringed a lovely array of warblers and those Salisbury Plain specialities of Whinchat, Stonechat and Redstart and we even retrapped a Stonechat that we originally ringed at the start of August.
We always hope for control warblers and we did get two Blackcaps that had been ringed elsewhere.
On the Salisbury Plain there is always an early morning rush and then it quietens down so by 9am we are normally sat around drinking tea and eating cake but today just as it started quietening down the Meadow Pipits started going in the nets to keep us nicely occupied. As I walked along one net I looked down and saw a striking supercilium and knew immediately it was a Firecrest, a very rare catch for us and my favourite bird apart from Tree Sparrows.
A bit later, Swallows started moving but we rarely catch them and then House Martins came gliding in and they were getting lower and lower. I have often tried playing a call for them but it always proves to be the surest way to scare off every House Martin in the vicinity but I remember back to days on the coast where House Martins responded brilliantly. Today I played the call in the usual speculative manner and the martins immediately started descending towards me, we quickly put the player by the net and we caught 57 in very quick time but then one got out of the net, alarm called and they all disappeared as quickly as they came. This is the first time they have ever responded for me in Wiltshire and so the team had the rare pleasure of ringing a good number of these beautiful little birds and their amazing 'furry' feet. Best of all was that one was already ringed, control House Martins are very rare so we wait with eager anticipation as to the origins of this bird.
As I drove off the plain I was struck by just how many Meadow Pipits and Swallows were present across the whole of the area, they must really have been held up somewhere north all week. Sometimes 'The Plain' just amazes me with how good it is for birds and today was obviously just one of those special days. MP, AF, NW, AM, NP, TW
Tawny Owl 1, House Martin 56 (1), Swallow 8, Meadow Pipit 56, Firecrest 1, Redstart 1, Whinchat 2, Stonechat 2 (1), Blackcap 200, Garden Warbler 3, Whitethroat 7, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Sedge Warbler 6, Reed Warbler 3, Blackbird 1, Robin 3 (2), Dunnock 1, Blue Tit 1, Greenfinch 1, Goldfinch 4, Bullfinch 1, Reed Bunting 10 (1)