Friday, 13 November 2015

When they're gone they're gone.

With the unsettled weather set to continue for the foreseeable it was a case of try and do some ringing in less than ideal conditions to find out if any birds were still on the move at Billinge. The wind can be a bit lighter than forecast at dawn and the trees are still holding just enough leaves to provide some shelter, although they won’t be there for long at the rate they are dropping, so I set up for a brief session on Tuesday (10th) and again yesterday (12th).

Tuesday’s wind restricted session produced just five new birds – 3 Goldcrest, a Chiffchaff and a Chaffinch but at least it showed a few crests and the odd warbler were still moving despite the conditions. The wind was a bit lighter and allowed for a slightly longer ringing session yesterday and resulted in 12 birds being ringed – 1 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Wren, 1 Robin, 1 Blue Tit and 1 Yellowhammer. The lighter wind prompted a bit more movement overhead with around 900 Woodpigeon, 30 each of Fieldfare and Redwing and a few finches and Meadow Pipits heading south. In addition a flock of around 150 Starling headed north-west and another flock of 25 went south as did a few Jackdaws.

However, the most notable aspect of yesterday’s session was that it was the first since sometime way back in August without a single Goldcrest being seen or heard. The ringing site doesn’t hold any wintering or breeding Goldcrests so they only occur when juveniles start to disperse from the few nearby breeding sites or during spring and autumn migration. Yesterday's no show probably marks the end of autumn migration for Goldcrests in this area but what a fantastic autumn it has been. The Goldcrest totals for the site for the second half of the year are impressive for an inland location with not far short of 700 birds being handled. I will post more information on this autumn’s numbers along with details of the controls and any further recoveries in the next week or two as it merits a much closer look.

With autumn migration coming to an end and the wet and windy weather making fieldwork of any description very unpleasant it is probably time for me to think about finding my fat pants. I will probably pile on the pounds now despite my best intentions to do otherwise so a change of wardrobe will probably be required. My only hope of keeping to my summer weight is if we get a good influx of Waxwings, some wintering flocks of Redpolls and some half decent weather to keep me active.

While autumn migration is coming to an end it could continue for a while for a few species with Redpolls falling into this category. What are often termed as irruptive species like Redpolls and Waxwings are largely driven to move by the availability of a variable food supply rather than the changing seasons per se.

No comments:

Post a Comment