Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Waxwing lyrical part 9 - Siidisaba

I took the day off work to try and catch some more Waxwings as up to 62 had been present yesterday. I was up early and was joined by John G as he had an hour or so to spare before going to work. We put up an 18ft net in the garden at first light and waited for the birds to arrive. A flock of 42 arrived at the usual time and sat preening in the trees along the road from the garden as they normally do before coming down to feed.

The Siskins started coming to the feeders and the Waxwings moved along the tree line closer to the garden. The Waxwings were just about to drop down when a male Sparrowhawk darted through the garden and flew into the net. This flushed all the birds including the Waxwings which were lost to view.

3CY male Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus)
More than half an hour passed before any birds returned to the garden. Siskins were first along with a few tits but there was no sign of any of the Waxwings. Almost an hour passed before a smaller flock of around 20 Waxwings returned by which time the sun was up and starting to shine on the net. The street was also becoming busy with mums and children on the school run but a few birds came across and started to feed.

The rest of this smaller flock soon joined them and some worked their way down the tree to the apples by the net. John really needed to get off to work but it looked like we had a chance to catch a few before the sun became too much of a problem. The foreign ringed bird was one of the lower birds by the net but it would fly parallel to the net to and from its favoured apple. It was time for John to go when the first Waxwing flew into the net and it was quickly followed by another 4. One of these was the colour-ringed bird from Aberdeen.

A good reason to risk being late for work.
John had to go now but at least he had ringed 4 Waxwings this time. The sun was becoming more of a problem but a few clouds drifted across offering some hope of catching a few more. The Waxwings commuted between the apples in the garden and the trees across the road but it was clear they could see the net. The foreign ringed bird frequently made a show of itself by the net and had me on pins for much of the time - no all of the time to be honest.

A Waxwing would occasional get caught but most easily avoided the net. The few bits of cloud had burned off by this time so I decided to furl the net. Just before I went out two Waxwings flew into the garden from the trees across the road and went straight in the net. A quick check with the binoculars and I thought one of them was wearing an aluminium ring.

I went and extracted the birds and one was wearing an aluminium ring. It was the foreign ringed bird and better than expected with the address of Matsalu, Estonia stamped on the ring. I don't believe in fate but the ring number also made me smile as the first two letters were PA which are my initials. I furled the net as planned feeling satisfied and much more relaxed to say the least. Down right chuffed probably sums it up.

Estonian ringed Siidisaba (Bombycilla garrulus)

After processing the birds I checked the BTO online ringing reports to see how many Waxwing movements there had been between the UK and Estonia. To my surprise there had been none in either direction up the end of 2011 or to any of the other Baltic states for that matter. Waxwings are a rare breeding bird in Estonia so it is likely to have been ringed as a migrant last autumn as it was a first winter bird. It will be interesting to see when it was ringed in relation to the main arrivals on the east coast as it will give an indication of the speed of movement.

At least 20 Waxwings continued to feed in the garden for the rest of the day including the Estonian and colour-ringed bird. For some reason they seemed tamer than ever in the afternoon and weren't disturbed by my neighbour when he came out to tidy his front garden. I wondered if the apples ferment a little in their gut and make them more chilled out as the day goes on.

Estonian ringed Waxwing (Siidisaba) back feeding in the garden after being released.
I opened the net again at 15:30 as the net was starting to get shaded by the house and I managed to catch one more before they left for their roost at around 16:10.

Ringing totals with retraps / controls in brackets.
Waxwing 10 (2)
Siskin 2 (4)
Sparrowhawk 1
Total 13 (6)

I was up the ladder with a bag of apples as usual this evening in readiness for tomorrow but I doubt today will be bettered anytime soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment