Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hare we go

There was no fog yesterday morning so I went up to Billinge to see what was about with see being the operative word. Visibility was excellent, the wind was light and birds were singing everywhere including a couple of Chiffchaffs that have been around for a few days. I put up a couple of nets in the hope of a ringing a few migrants although I didn't expect to catch much.

I hadn't been there long when a couple of phylloscs flitted through the bushes going north. Neither called or gave much of a view and I wouldn't like to say what they were and both missed the nets. A little while later I heard part of the song of a Willow Warbler and as the morning warmed the bird came into view and the full song soon followed. This bird was caught and it was already ringed with a number that I recognised. On checking my records it was a bird I had originally ringed as an adult in the same place on 25/07/14. So my first Willow Warbler of 2015 was a returning bird from 2014, not that unusual but it is always great to see birds return having survived the ordeals of migration to Africa.

Willow Warbler HLX365, a returning adult from 2014.
A short walk around part of the site revealed a second Willow Warbler and a friend (CAD) encountered another 2 on adjoining areas so a few must have dropped in overnight. Visible migration overhead was limited to a steady trickle of around 10 to 20 Meadow Pipits per hour and that was about it. Interestingly a few Lesser Redpolls were lured down to the nets even though there was no obvious finch movement and 7 were ringed.

Lesser Redpoll
Despite much watching of the sky for migrants I can't take credit for noticing a curcumzenithal arc that appeared directly above me. Fortunately a text from Chris (CAD) alerted me to it before it melted away.

Smile in the sky.
Not long after a sun dog appeared which is a related phenomena that also involves ice crystals in the atmosphere. Nice as such things are I would have preferred more visible migration to look at.

Sun Dog
Although there wasn't that much about it was an improvement and the arrival of Willow Warblers did make it feel like spring had really got going at last. So where is the Hare in all this? Well it worked its way down the hill towards me and seemed oblivious to my presence as they often can be if you spot them first and keep really still. I had seen another Hare in the same area when I first got there and this second individual seemed to be sniffing out scent marks left by the other.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 8th April 2014 were: Lesser Redpoll 7; Great Tit 4; Goldcrest 2; Willow Warbler (1).

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