Saturday, 24 November 2012

Super Saturday

I have been putting plenty of seed down at the feeding stations at Longshaw and Haigh during the week and made some additional feeders to ensure there is a continuous supply of seed. The large capacity and design of the feeders should mean they will only need refilling a couple of times a week although that could change if the number of birds continues to increase. When I went to put food out on Thursday there were good numbers of finches present including 30+ Bramblings at both sites so I was keen to try and fit in a ringing session at each over the weekend, weather permitting.

This morning looked like being the only decent opportunity for ringing with a forecast of heavy rain and increasing winds from late Saturday afternoon through to Sunday morning. I decided to go to Longshaw as there was also the chance of luring a Waxwing in again although expecting a repeat of last week was a real long shot. I met up with John G and we had 3 nets up before first light, one 60ft and two 30ft nets. I also set up a couple of MP3 lures players playing Waxwing on the off chance. 

Bramblings and Chaffinches started dropping in shortly after first light but no Greenfinches. For some reason Greenfinches only start to arrive about an hour or so later and peak numbers are only present from around mid morning onwards. I am not sure why there should be such a difference in arrival times between these species but it is very noticeable. The distance from their respective roost sites could be a factor but can’t really explain such a big difference in arrival times and the even later build up in numbers of Greenfinches. They may simply leave their roost sites at different times but that would seem strange for similar species with the same diet. Anyway there is always something to learn and that is what keeps my interest. 

The morning progressed in a steady fashion but with fewer retraps than might be expected given the number of birds ringed last Sunday. At around 9:30 a single Waxwing turned up but history didn’t repeat itself and it wasn’t caught. On the next round of the nets 2 Coal Tits were amongst the catch of finches which is not that unusual but one of these birds was a control (ringed elsewhere); ring number starting Y99. There has been an eruption of this species in the UK this autumn so it will be interesting to find out where this bird has come from. Hopefully it will be more than a local movement.

We packed up at around 11:30 having caught 62 new birds and 16 recaptures. Finches dominated the totals with 22 Brambling (including 3 retraps), 20 Chaffinch and 19 Greenfinch. 

The sky had greyed during the morning and the wind was still very light so I persuaded John to give Haigh a try in the afternoon before the rain arrived. After a quick bite to eat we drove up to Haigh and put up a couple of nets. The breeze was picking up but this was offset to some extent by it being very dull and overcast. 

Afternoon ringing sessions are usually much less productive as birds have had all morning to feed up and there is usually more wind making nets easier to see. There were a lot of finches present on arrival with over 60 in the vicinity of the feeders, mainly Bramblings and Greenfinch. Two Blue Tits were caught in the first net while the second was being put up getting us off to a very quick start. 

Bramblings dominated the subsequent catches and made up a third of the afternoon’s total of 75 birds. One of these Bramblings was a control (ringed elsewhere); ring number starting D170. This was aged as a first year bird and will have been ringed relatively recently because of that; possibly as a newly arrived migrant on the east coast. The first spot of rain arrived shortly after 15:30 curtailing a very productive 3 hour afternoon ringing session.
Adult male Brambling left and first winter male Brambling right. Note the more extensive orange across the breast of the adult and the narrower and less extensive pale fringes to the head feathers.

The total for the day was 153 birds, comprised of 107 new birds and 46 recaptures. Bramblings made up nearly one third of this total with 43 new birds, 3 retraps and 1 control. This brings the number of Brambling ringed this autumn to 80 which is an exceptional total for us this early in the season. Anyone who has read my last few posts will know that Bramblings have featured in one way or another and that looks set to continue on today’s performance. Most of my ringing effort will be at these two baited sites until next spring so I am likely to become a real Brambling bore judging by recent performance. Such events don’t come around very often and I will happily bore you with many more Brambling related posts given half a chance. 

Today’s ringing totals, retraps in brackets:
Brambling 43 (+4 including a control)
Greenfinch 31 (+2)
Chaffinch 23
Bullfinch 0 (+2)
Blue Tit 6 (+17)
Great Tit 1 (+5)
Coal Tit 1 (+3 including a control)
Long-tailed Tit 0 (+5)
Blackbird 2 (+1)
Robin 0 (+5)
Dunnock 0 (+1)
Nuthatch 0 (+1)
Totals 107 new birds (+46 recaptures)

No comments:

Post a Comment