Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Mild and Miserable

The only slightly redeeming feature of the current run of mild and miserable weather is that my heating bills are much lower than usual as a result. Opportunities to get out have been limited and when I have been out the birding has been uninspiring to say the least. The feeders in the garden are not attracting much either so on the odd occasion I have been able to put a net up in the garden it has only resulted in a handful of birds being caught.

I went to the farmland site at Crawford yesterday to see if anything was around and to start putting out some seed. This was my first visit in a good while so I didn't know what to expect but I decided to put up a couple of nets as the wind was fairly light. There were no berries on the hedges but I managed to lure in a couple of Fieldfares and caught one of them. I didn't see or hear a single Redwing in the 3 hours I was there and only saw 12 Fieldfares in total with 10 of those flying over after I had packed up. Other birds caught were a new and a retrap Goldcrest, 2 new and a retrap Great Tit, 2 new and a control Blue Tit. There were a couple of nice if not unusual sightings with around 1500 Pink-footed Geese flying between the fields nearby and a party of 6 Corn Buntings doing likewise. I still haven't managed to attract Corn Buntings to the feeding site and thankfully they still don't seem to fall victim to the hunger gap in the latter part of the winter but better my loss than theirs.

Yesterday's female Fieldfare.
The wind was still relatively light this morning so I decided to check out a site close to home to see if it was holding any Goldcrests. A couple of hours with an 18ft net and audio lures produced 4 Goldcrest, a Robin, a Coal Tit and a Willow Tit. The number of Goldcrests was pretty much as expected given that we haven't experienced any hard weather yet. The influx of continental Goldcrest doesn't appear to have left many extra birds wintering in this area so most seem to have moved further south. The Coal Tit was interesting in that it had a bluer mantle than any other I have handled locally although I don't think it was a continental bird; as in most things intermediates do occur but it was interesting nevertheless. The Willow Tit was not unusual for the site but was the first I have caught for a while. Their success in these parts seems to owe much to past land reclamation schemes and associated tree planting along with some natural greening of brownfield sites. It will be interesting to see if their populations hold as the trees on these sites mature.

This morning's Willow Tit.
Small catches are the norm at the moment and seem likely to stay that way for the remainder of the year. Hopefully things will brighten up and pick up in the new year.

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