Thursday, 14 August 2014

Tree-mendous morning

The wet and windy weather of the past few days has really put the brakes on migration and also on any ringing. I have been itching to get out to see if any Tree Pipits would be on the move when the conditions improved and that opportunity finally came this morning. I was up at 4:30 and had 3 nets up by sunrise. It seemed fairly quiet at first and there didn't seem to be many warblers in the bushes, only the odd Willow Warbler flitting about and a few Whitethroats in their favourite area of bramble.

The first round of the nets produced a few birds including a Tree Pipit even though I hadn't heard any go over. Willow Warblers started to appear here, there and everywhere and a good number must have dropped in shortly after sunrise and over the next hour or so. Shower clouds and the odd light sprinkle of rain presumably causing this small fall of at least 50 warblers. Although conditions were reasonable there didn't seem to be any visible migration to speak of but Tree Pipits kept dropping in having been attracted by the playback lure. A steady stream of birds were caught and kept me busy until about 11am when I packed up, just as a band of heavy showers moved in.

The ringing totals for the morning set new records for the site for both Tree Pipit and Willow Warbler with 13 and 30 respectively. The 13 Tree Pipits is another remarkable catch and shows how many must go over unnoticed. I certainly didn't catch all the Tree Pipits that were attracted to the nets and a minimum of 15 to 20 birds were involved. Had I not been ringing I think I would have only recorded 3 or 4 of the Tree Pipits at most as they only seem to call very intermittently and many probably pass over the site without calling in earshot. The Willow Warbler catch was interesting as one third of the birds were adults and there wasn't a single retrap from any of the previous sessions which also indicated it was a fresh arrival of birds from elsewhere. In direct contrast 3 of the 7 Chiffchaffs caught were retraps from previous visits.

All in all it was a great morning and it revealed more new information on the timing and volume of Tree Pipit migration through the area. The weather is looking favourable for tomorrow, although the wind is moving round to a more northerly direction, so it will be interesting to see if Tree Pipits continue to move in similar numbers.

I didn't have any time to take photographs for most of this morning but I couldn't resist grabbing a picture of the last Tree Pipit caught.
Ringing Totals for 14/08/14 with retraps in brackets:
Tree Pipit 13
Willow Warbler 30
Chiffchaff 4 (3)
Blackcap 5
Whitethroat 1
Goldcrest (1)
Chaffinch 7
Goldfinch 3
Linnet 2
Robin 1
Blackbird 1
Total 67 (4)

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