02 August 2010

Reed Warbler bonanza

This year BTO staff (Dave Leech, Mike Toms, Jez Blackburn and myself) have made a big push to record Reed Warbler nesting attempts on the BTO Nunnery reserve and also at an old sand quarry nearby. We're attempting to find the majority of nests at each site, a challenging task given the depth of the water and the prolific output of the birds, many of which raise two broods per season. All the chicks are ringed, so we should be able to identify those who return from Africa to breed next year, and the adults are also being colour ringed in the hope that we can identify which birds are responsible for producing which youngsters.

Over 130 nests have been found since the start of June and around 150 chicks ringed, together with three Cuckoo chicks that had evicted the previous tennants. One of the Reed Warblers (X465599) has already been caught by ringer John Walshe at Lackford, Suffolk, having travelled 16km to a completely different reedbed within a month of leaving the nest. Did it make the journey on its own or with siblings, and are movements to other sites soon after fledging a regular occurence? These are the sort of quesitons that we hope to be able to answer in the longer term.

Thanks to John Walshe and Dave Leech for the photo.

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