Friday, 16 October 2015

Thrush Fest part 2

The good numbers of thrushes that moved over Billinge on Monday and Tuesday paled into insignificance compared with the numbers on the move on Wednesday (14th). Inevitably I was too busy ringing to devote much time to estimating numbers but in the region of 3,000 to 5,000 Redwings were involved with the upper figure probably being nearer the mark. A friend who lives nearby counted over 2,000 from the fairly restricted view point of his garden and after missing some of the early flocks so the upper estimate of 5,000 could even have been on the low side. A few Blackbirds and Fieldfares were also seen or heard and around 30 Song Thrush were noted but others would have gone through amongst the hordes of Redwings.

Many of the Redwings moving over Billinge will winter much further south in France or Spain.
During the morning a total of 138 birds were ringed as follows: Redwing 114; Song Thrush 7, Fieldfare 1, Blackbird 1; Goldcrest 6; Lesser Redpoll 5; Great Tit 3; Coal Tit 1. With so many Redwings about I could have easily caught a lot more than I did but I had to limit the catch to numbers I could safely deal with on my own.

On Thursday (15th) I was out again as it seemed likely that there would be plenty more thrushes on the move. This time as was joined by David Norman of Merseyside Ringing Group and initially it looked like there would be similar numbers of Redwings for a second day. After a very busy start numbers tailed off quite quickly compared to the previous day with around 1,000 Redwings going through along with 100 or so Fieldfare, a few Blackbirds and another 20 or so Song Thrush.

The big Fieldfare movements have yet to come. 
The thrushes attracted the attention of a minimum of 3 Sparrowhawks
Despite there being fewer Redwings on the move we still ended up with excellent ringing total of 111 new birds, 3 retraps and 1 control. Ringing totals were: Redwing 82; Song Thrush 3; Fieldfare 2; Long-tailed Tit 11 (2); Goldcrest 6 (1); Blackcap 1; Coal Tit 1; Blue Tit (1); Great Tit 1; Treecreeper 1; Lesser Redpoll; 1; Bullfinch 1, Sparrowhawk 1. The control (bird ringed elsewhere) being the only Blue Tit caught.

With little change in the weather and the likelihood of more Redwings I was back out again this morning. It was a much quieter than the previous day but at least 500 Redwings went through during the morning. Other sightings included 3 Bramblings with a cracking adult male being caught and a single Crossbill was noted going northeast. Ringing totals for this morning were: Redwing 42; Song Thrush 5; Blackbird 2; Goldcrest 7; Blue Tit 1; Lesser Redpoll 3; Chaffinch 3, Brambling 1. A total of 64 new birds.

Most of the Song Thrushes that have been caught recently are greyer continental birds like this fine example.
They don't get much greyer than this and look very different to the British race clarkei

...and here is an example of the warmer buff and brown British race clarkei for comparison. 
Finding this adult male Brambling in a net today was a really nice surprise. Only 2 had been heard going over before this one was caught.

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