Sunday, 28 February 2016

Weekend highlights including more yellow delights

It has been just over a month since I last did any ringing at Crawford so I was pleased to be able to get out there yesterday morning. I had tailed off the supply of feed towards the end of January due to the wet and windy weather and a lack of birds but I decided to give it another go as it can be a good site for finches in spring. The weather was near perfect and provided the first opportunity for a ringing session since the resumption of feeding so I was there at dawn and set the usual 3 nets (a total of 36m) near the feeders.

The were more Blackbirds and Song Thrushes around than expected although that was probably due to the large crop of berries on the ivy that almost covers large parts of the hedges. The Goldcrest was interesting in that it looked like a continental bird and it may already be starting to edge its way back towards the breeding grounds. Otherwise the catch was pretty much as expected given I've only been putting out food for a little over a week.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) were: Blackbird 6 (4); Song Thrush 2 (1); Dunnock 1; Greenfinch 1; Goldfinch 10; Chaffinch 3; Tree Sparrow 2; Great Tit 1 (1); Blue Tit 1 (1); Coal Tit 1; Goldcrest 1. A total of 29 new birds and 7 retraps.

Adult female Blackbird
Song Thrush, also an adult.
On getting home I was greeted by a soundscape of Siskins. There were at least a dozen in the garden and many more chattering in the trees across the road. After making some lunch (or dinner as us northerners call the midday meal) I spent much of the afternoon watching the birds in the garden with the camera at the ready. The garden was buzzing with Siskins and it doesn't seem to matter how many feeders you provide there will still be some scrapping over one particular feeder, even when others are available.

Scrapping Siskins.
The female on the left was the bird that flew in and sparked the interaction with the two males.

Such a large and noisy gathering was bound to attract the interest of a predator sooner or later and a sudden silence with birds darting off in all directions or diving into the privet hedge was a sure sign that a Sparrowhawk had just made an attack. I couldn't see it at first but then is flew across the garden and landed on the privet hedge although my view was obscured by branches from the rowan tree. It had obviously failed to catch anything with the first attack and had gone to the privet hedge to see if any of the hiding birds would break cover.

This adult male Sparrowhawk has probably learned that there is little chance of getting a bird to break cover from such a dense hedge but it probably couldn't help having a little look on the off chance. I have seen young male Sparrowhawks waste time and energy running up and down the hedge and flipping from one side to the other in an attempt to flush hiding birds.

It knows there is something in there and it could have been the Belgian-ringed Blackcap as it often comes out to feed from that part of the hedge.
The Belgian-ringed Blackcap photographed earlier in the afternoon. It has been recorded nearly every day since the first sighting on 17th January.
Seeing so many Siskins in the garden yesterday tempted me to try another short ringing session this morning although I thought there may be a fair proportion of retraps judging by the number of ringed birds I had seen. I set the usual 6m net at first light and waited for the first birds to arrive. At least 30 Siskins gathered in the trees across the road before any came down to the feeders. The first net round produced 8 Siskins and a Robin and there wasn't a retrap amongst them. The final totals (retraps in brackets) for a session that lasted a little more than an hour were: Robin 2; Great Tit (1); Siskin 14 (3). The low proportion of retrap Siskins was a bit of a surprise and the total number of Siskins ringed in the garden since late January now stands at 72 with 37 of them having been ringed in the past 5 days. Not bad for a small front garden and on a par with previous good Siskin years.

A cracking adult male Siskin but then is there any other kind.
Interestingly the number of Goldfinches has decreased even though there is no shortage of food or feeders in the garden. It may indicate that some have started to disperse or migrate and or they could have shifted their diet and be spending more time feeding on alder seeds and the developing flower buds of trees and bushes.
All in all not a bad weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment