Thursday, 24 March 2016

That Blackcap again

Migration has been like the proverbial watched pot that never boils so far this spring and it has barely got to a simmer even at the south and west coast hot spots thus far. I still haven't seen or heard a summer visitors at any of my regular haunts although a few are creeping into the area. I thought last night's full moon may have encouraged some movement but it didn't even send a Chiffchaff in my direction.

The weather that has been holding up summer visitors may also be the reason the wintering Blackcap is still in my garden. Skies were clear in the early part of last night so I thought it may be tempted to go but when I pulled back the curtains this morning it was the first bird I saw.

I have become a bit obsessed with this bird as I would like to establish the last date it visits the garden as I am not sure how much is actually known about the timing of departure in spring. The reporting rates on BirdTrack are fairly flat throughout the winter and don't show an obvious dip before the arrival of those coming to the UK to breed. This suggest that winter visitors leave at about the same time or a little after the first wave of summer visitors arrive. It has to be said that the reporting rate in winter is relatively low but I still think it would have shown a dip if winterers depart before the summer visiting Blackcaps start arriving in the UK.

To be certain it is the same bird, and not another ringed male Blackcap, I photograph it to check the ring number and I managed to do that again today. It would be easy to assume it is the same bird but for the record to go into the ringing database it has to be read. It can be frustrating and on some occasions I have taken a lot of photos to read the ring but I think it is worth it. It has also been entertaining to watch and it would be hard to resist taking photos of it even if it wasn't ringed.

One of 40 or 50 photos taken today. 882 is in the middle of the ring number and you can just make out BRUSS of Brussels at the bottom of the ring.

It appears to be moulting a few feathers around its face.

If it broke of a big bit of the fat cake it would throw it up and into the back of its throat like Waxwings sometimes do with berries.
The weather is looking interesting tomorrow ahead of a wet and windy weekend so I will be out and about to see what I can find but I will also find time to watch out for the Blackcap in the garden.

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