Monday, 24 March 2014

24th March 2014 and another early start.

I can't wait for British summer time to start this weekend as it means dawn won't feel so early for a couple of weeks. I was up at five this morning but it isn't getting any easier even though I have been up at about that time most days over the past couple of weeks. I like being out and about early it is just a shame I don't find it easy to get up that early, not easy at all.

The original plan for the morning was to go to the baited site at Longshaw as there are few Bramblings feeding there but I decided to have brief session in the garden first. I was joined by Wayne and we caught 10 Siskins and a Goldfinch in two rounds of the net in a little over half an hour. This brings the number of Siskins ringed in the garden to 135 in just under 5 weeks and surprisingly there hasn't been a single control (bird ringed elsewhere) amongst them. The one Goldfinch caught was interesting in that it was a very obvious and small female and had 3 white tail spots. If you have read my previous posts on Goldfinches you will know what I am on about and why that interests me.

D873360 Goldfinch an obvious female with a wing length of 74mm.
D873360 Goldfinch tail showing 3 white sub-terminal tail patches..
After the brief session in the garden we went to Longshaw to find at least 7 or 8 Bramblings on the feeders. We soon had two nets up but it wasn't long before the sun was up above the trees and shining on the nets making them easy for the birds to see. We packed up after only an hour but we did manage to catch 12 birds in the short time before the sun became too much of a problem. These included a Brambling and Wayne's first Great Spotted Woodpecker.

In the afternoon I decided to make the most of the glorious sunshine and went for a walk around the Wigan Flashes with the camera and the dog. It was a very pleasant walk but fairly quiet on the birding front as you would expect at that time time of day and in those conditions. As I walked up to Pearson's Flash I came across a Chiffchaff feeding in a willow at the edge of the water. It didn't call and was feeding intently so I suspect it was a newly arrived migrant. In mainly took small insects from within the willow but it also made fairly regular fly-catching forays over the water. I spent ages trying to photograph it but it wasn't easy as it was so active and very fast.

When I finally gave up trying to photograph the Chiffchaff I decided to head for home but I didn't get far before my attention was drawn to the calls of a couple of Long-tailed Tits in trees just off the footpath. I quickly realised they were nest building and luckily the nest site wasn't too obscured so I was able to get a few photos without leaving the path. The nest was about half complete and a little bit behind two other Long-tailed Tit nests I have found recently but not by much. It is remarkable how synchronised their nesting attempts seem to be over quite a wide area but then they need to be to make their breeding strategy work. Hopefully the weather will stay kind and they will have a much better breeding season than they did last year with the late and very cold spring.

Luckily it is going to rain overnight and into the morning so I will be able to have a bit of a lie in tomorrow but it looks like I will be back to a 5 am start on Wednesday.

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