Thursday, 3 July 2014

Reed Warblers and Cuckoos at Holme Pierrepont

Last year, I joined Ian wading through the reedbeds at our ringing site at the Grange, looking for Reed Warbler nests. We found a few but it wasn't as successful as we'd hoped. This year I was keen to get back in the reedbeds again and have another look, but various things kept getting in the way and it got to 7 June before I finally borrowed some waders and got stuck in. What really prompted me to put some effort in was the fact that cuckoos seem to be a big presence around Holme Pierrepont this summer, with up to 3 individuals being seen and at least as many calling from various territories round the area. I hoped that with so many about, that maybe I'd be lucky enough to find a reed warbler nest with a big fat cuckoo chick in it.

On the 7th I donned the waders and wandered through the reedbeds, but was disappointed to not find any nests within the first hour or so of searching. After waiting through a heavy rain shower, I finally jumped back in and just before giving up, finally stumbled across a nest. I couldn't beleive it when I poked my nose in to see a reddish-brown egg which was slightly larger than the 3 greyish brown speckled eggs sitting next to it. Some shaky-handed photography followed and I cycled home with a smile on my face.

I made another visit on the 15th, expecting to see some change in the nest, but still nothing had happened and there was some minor damage to one of the supports holding the nest in place, so I did worry that the nest had been abandoned, as the eggs didn't feel massively warm. However on 21 June I had another go with the Reed Warblers and located a couple more nests. I also visited the cuckoo one last time, just in case I had been wrong. Luckily I had, as when I looked this time, there was a naked, blind cuckoo there... and no Reed Warblers.

On Sunday, I met up with Ian so we could have a go at ringing the bird. We needed to time the visit right as we didn't want it too small, but we also didn't want it so big that it could damaged the nest by taking the bird out. It seemed we timed it just right as I managed to ring the bird at FS stage. Hopefully the bird will carry on as successfully as it has been and it's fantastic that everything seems to have gone perfectly.

We've found a few more Reed Warbler nests too, so it's good to have some nest records for the year and hopefully we should be ringing the chicks soon.

Thanks to Ian for coming down and supervising the ringing of this amazing bird!


 Photos by T. Shields and I. Blackmore

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