Thursday, 18 September 2014

13th to 18th September

The current run of fine weather has allowed me to get out to Billinge each morning although the slightly stronger breeze and other commitments have restricted some visits. Getting out every day has allowed me to see how much migratory activity there has been from the fluctuation in the number of nocturnal migrants present and by watching migration in action with the passage of diurnal migrants flying overhead. Each day has produced something of interest and made getting up at 5:00 am or shortly after worthwhile.

The number of Grey Wagtails seen moving has reduced from last Friday's high of 34 with 12 on 13th, 5 on 14th, 10 on 15th and just 4 each on 16th, 17th and 18th. There has been a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits flying over each day involving around 200 at most although I haven't had time to do any proper counts. Reed Buntings have been on the move in small numbers with birds seen flying in from the north or north east and then seen leaving to the south. A Whinchat was noted on the 17th and was a first for the site this autumn but hopefully won't be the last. I hadn't seen or heard a Tree Pipit since the 12th so the one caught and ringed this morning (18th) was a pleasant surprise and could well be my last of the autumn. Similarly a Willow Warbler caught and ringed this morning was the first for 9 days.

It is not surprising that some none birdwatchers think Grey Wagtails are Yellow Wagatils. Perhaps they should have been called Grey-backed Wagtails or Yellow-vented Wagtails.

Meadow Pipit 16/09/14. There haven't been any really big movements over the site yet but there is still time. Passage should continue into October.

Tree Pipit 18/09/14. It is getting late for these now but there is still a chance of one or two more coming through before the end of the month.

Willow Warbler 18/09/14. Possibly the last one I will see this year.
A few Snipe and Song Thrush have also been on the move and a Hobby was seen 13th. Hirundines have been relatively scarce with only a few passing through but there was a notable rush of Swallows at one point on the 16th involving more than 60 birds in one loose flock. A Redwing heard calling at first light on the 17th was my first of the autumn and is quite early for this side of the country. Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Jays have been seen flying over at height on several mornings but directions have varied so local movements or dispersal can't be ruled out. It continues to look like being a bumper autumn for Goldcrests with another 14 ringed this morning to add to the 23 ringed in the past few days. This brings the number ringed so far this month to 87.

Male Goldcrest 15/09/14

Male Goldcrests are not all created equal. The orange crown feathers of the bird on the left are by far the richest I have ever seen.
However, the best and most unusual sighting of the past six days came in the form of a Great Crested Grebe seen flying very high to the east on the 16th. This is the first time I have ever seen a Great Crested Grebe flying over land and at such height. It is almost certainly the first record of the species at the site and is one that may never be repeated. It is not that Grebes don't fly over land very often, just that they mainly do so at night and are very rarely seen doing so as a result.

Combined Ringing Totals 13th to 18th September (retraps in brackets):
Grey Wagtail 13
Meadow Pipit 83
Tree Pipit 1
Goldcrest 37 (1)
Chiffchaff 14 (2)
Willow Warbler 1
Blackcap 10
Robin 1
Chaffinch 2
Goldfinch 3. 
Coal Tit 2 (1)
Reed Bunting 7
Total 174 (+4 retraps)

There was one other unusual thing that happened since my last post and it ranks as one of the more bizarre ringing related experiences. I was driving to the ringing site with my son, Jack, at about 05:40 on the 13th and we had just passed a drunken late night reveller who was walking home when I had to stop at some traffic lights. The dog was in the back of the car and suddenly started barking like mad which is not that unusual if he takes a real dislike to a pedestrian. The commotion increased and we looked round to find the reveller had opened the back door and was getting in the back of the car at the side of the dog, no wonder the dog was going mental. I yelled at him to get out and he responded by demanding a lift home. A bit of yelling a pushing later and the idiot was out. That was a new experience for me and I may just lock the car doors if passing drunken idiots in future.

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