Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Fair weather birding

Today has been a thoroughly nice day. It started with a very brief ringing session in the garden that produced 8 new and 4 retrap Siskins but only 1 new Goldfinch. I then went for a walk around Orrell Water Park to make the most of the glorious weather and got a few nice photos in the process.

It was interesting to see the German-ringed Black-headed Gull now that it is close to having a full brown hood.

Hood development of the German ringed Black-headed Gull IA141745.
It is a shame I didn't photograph it in early February

I nearly missed the drake Mandarin asleep on the bank.

Although the Water Rail showed well it was often partially obscured by vegetation or was in the shade as in this photo.
Eventually I got some photos in better light.
That long bill is being put to good use again but they will also push the whole of the head under water if they need to. The eye isn't clear in this photo because it is covered by the nictitating membrane which is used to protect the eye whilst maintaining some vision at the same time. It mainly seemed to be finding and eating caddisfly larvae.

Birds are accustomed to people putting seed on the top of the fence and quickly respond to any fresh handouts. I managed to get part of this male Reed Bunting's ring number and it is from a sequence that was used between 4 and 6 years ago. It wasn't ringed in the park but it could have been ringed at the nearby Longshaw site.

Female Yellowhammer.
Yellowhammers only take advantage of this food source in late winter and early spring and sometimes allow fairly close approach.

Male Yellowhammer

Male Yellowhammer
I hadn't seen Moorhens feeding on the fence top before today.

The fine weather stimulated many birds to sing and this Robins was in fine voice.

The Mandarin was out on the water when I was making my way back home.

I am not sure how long this Great Crested Grebe has been sitting but I think it has been at least a couple of weeks. 

When I got home I checked through the Siskins that were feeding in the garden and most were unringed. I never see more than about a dozen in the garden at any one time but there could be as many as 30 or 40 that come to the feeders over the course of a day.

Unringed male Siskin

To cap off a good day the Belgian-ringed Blackcap showed well in the late afternoon. 
It spent more time feeding on the ground than it usually does and was eating the scraps that fall from the sunflower heart feeders and fat cakes.

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