Friday, 12 September 2014

A grey day in more ways than one.

This morning dawned very grey and it was really quite gloomy at the Billinge ringing site. Looking in all directions visibility was poor and didn't extend much beyond 2 or 3 miles shortly after sunrise, not that you could see the sun rise. In fact it looked like the site was surrounded by a bank of fog especially towards the south and west so I didn't expect much in the way of visible migration. It stayed grey and gloomy for most of the morning and only brightened up a bit when the breeze started to pick up.

I had set the usual nets up at first light and was playing Grey Wagtail on the MP3 player at one net and Goldcrest at another. It wasn't long before I heard a Grey Wagtail flying over from the north east and I was hopeful of catching it but on checking the net I was pleasantly surprised to find I had actually caught five. I extracted the birds and went on to the net with the Goldcrest lure and found I had also caught five Goldcrests; a great start to the morning.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea). A stunning species and grey in name only.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea). A cracking bird whichever way you look at them.
Grey Wagtails continued to feature until I packed up at 11am with a total of 15 ringed from at least 34 recorded. This is the largest Grey Wagtail movement I have ever recorded anywhere and is also the most I have ever ringed in one day but as this is my first autumn ringing at this site I don't know how unusual it will turn out to be. Having said that a friend who has watched the site for many years has never recorded anything close to that number flying over so it is likely to be an unprecedented day total. I suspect it may be a case of the MP3 lure causing some birds to be caught or call back that would otherwise have passed by unnoticed but like the record number of Tree Pipits seen and ringed last month, only time will tell.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea). Another view showing more of the upperparts.

All the Grey Wagtails caught were first year birds and had some retained juvenile coverts.
This bird has 7 old outer greater coverts and 2 old tertials.

In this bird the outer 3 greater coverts are old juvenile feathers with the remaining greater coverts and tertials being new having been replaced in the post juvenile moult.
Grey Wagtails may have been on the move but Meadow Pipits certainly weren't, at least not in any number. One group of 9 went southwest mid-morning and a handful of presumably local birds were blogging about. Other birds on the move were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers flying very high to the north east about an hour apart, a single Tree Pipit headed south, a few Chaffinches also went south along with a few Swallows.

Ringing revealed there were more Goldcrests around than would have been recorded from the number heard calling with a total of 15 ringed. Warblers were very thin on the ground with 3 Chiffchaffs ringed and only 1 Blackcap heard tacking. This is in stark contrast to Tuesday (9th) when 10 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler were caught. Ringing totals for the morning were - Grey Wagtail 15, Goldcrest 15, Chaffinch 6, Chiffchaff 3, Reed Bunting 3, Yellowhammer 2, Goldfinch 1.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella). This adult male was just finishing its moult and was still replacing some of the feathers of the head.
Adult male Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), same bird as above. I have caught 18 this month so far but all the others have been juveniles.
Female Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniculs). Only 3 ringed today but small numbers have been moving through the site as indicated by the lack of any retraps.
The wind is remaining light tomorrow and there should be some cloud cover first thing so I will be out early again to see what the new day brings, hopefully it will include another good movement of Grey Wagtails.

No comments:

Post a Comment