Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The calm between the storms.

The forecast for this morning was for a welcome, if brief, lull in the run of wet and windy weather so I decided to take advantage of it to see what, if anything, was still moving through the ringing site at Billinge. A Redwing called overhead while I was loading the car in the darkness and another called when I was opening the gate to the site giving some early promise that the morning would produce a few birds.

I had four nets set up at first light and started catching Redwings soon after with 7 being caught in the first round. It was a stop start sort of morning with long periods without any birds moving overhead but just every now and again a flock of 50 or so Redwings or Fieldfares would come through. There were hardly any finches moving and the few that were seen seemed to be commuting between feeding sites rather than being migrants. This was disappointing as I had been hoping for a movement of Lesser Redpolls given that a good number (56) had been recorded going south at Winter Hill (a site not that far away) the previous day (per Andy Makin). 

I didn't see or hear any Goldcrests on my last visit (12th) and I had speculated that their migration had come to an end but I am glad to say I was wrong as the morning produced 7 new birds. Slight variation in colour of their plumage indicated that 3 were continental migrants while the remainder were more likely to be of UK origin. It is interesting that birds of both populations are still on the move and perhaps there are a few more that have yet to filter through from further north or east in the UK, as and when the weather allows.

The ringing totals for the morning were: Redwing 18; Fieldfare 1; Song Thrush 1; Goldcrest 7; Chaffinch 1; Lesser Redpoll 1 (1). Total: 29 new birds and 1 retrap. The 18 Redwings ringed took this autumn's total just into four figures and it now stands at 1003, not bad for a period of around 7 weeks.

Continental Song Thrush.
I have a bit of a thing for Song Thrushes as they are an under-recorded migrant away from the some of the main coastal watch points. I have ringed 77 at Billinge so far this autumn with a large proportion being of the greyer continental race.
The weather looks set to turn much colder at the weekend and into the early part of next week, both here in the UK and in much of northwest Europe, so we could see an upsurge in movement (thrushes and Skylarks in particular) on the back of that.


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