Tuesday, 1 April 2014

01/04/2014 Superspecies and supercilium.

The new month got off to a fine start in terms of the weather with conditions that were perfect for an early morning mist-netting session. I had arranged to meet Wayne for a ringing session at the baited site near Scotman's Flash subject to the usual confirmation text to see if I had dragged myself out of bed. Texts exchanged we subsequently met up at 06:15 and made our way to the ringing site at first light. As we approached the nyger feeders it was clear they had been heavily used in the two days since I had last refilled them. We topped up the feeders and quickly erected a couple of nets in anticipation of a good catch of Redpolls or at least that is what we were hoping for.

Although we were listening out for Redpolls we couldn't help hearing 2 Blackcaps that were singing close by, another first for this spring, and Chiffchaffs were clearly more plentiful. However, it wasn't long before we heard the distinctive nasal buzzing calls of approaching Redpolls amongst the cacophony of the dawn chorus. Initially the birds settled in the tops of sallows and started to feed on the flowering buds but it wasn't long before they worked their way down to the nyger feeders. The first round of the nets produced 10 Redpolls comprised of 8 Lessers and 2 Mealies which more than met our expectations, especially the Mealies. Redpolls are a group that really interest me and although I don't have a favourite species of bird Mealy would probably be a top contender.

This 'puff ball' of a Mealy was quite fat and weighed in at a fairly hefty 15.5g but it could get close to 20g before it heads back to its northern breeding grounds.

The other Mealy was a slightly frostier looking individual and weighed in at a leaner 12.4g.
Redpolls didn't get all the attention though as we also caught a Chiffchaff with a really prominent supercilium which, unusually, made me look twice. The supercilia were broad and met above the bill giving it a much stronger head pattern than I am used to seeing in this species. It was a fairly short-winged bird, probably a female and there is no doubt it was a Chiffchaff if you are wondering.

The 'double take' Chiffchaff

What a super supercilium this bird has.
Wayne had to go at 8am and I didn't stay much longer but the final totals were a respectable 16 new birds and 11 retraps. Redpoll migration has only just got underway so hopefully there will be a lot more Lessers and Mealies to come before the month is out.

Totals for 01/04/13 with retraps in brackets.

Lesser Redpoll 11 (9)
Mealy (Common) Redpoll 2
Chiffchaff 2
Reed Bunting 1
Blue Tit (1)
Wren (1)

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