Thursday, 21 July 2016

Billinge: 21st July 2016

I still haven't quite got into full autumn mode as my body refuses to get going before it gets light so I only managed to get to Billinge at 06:00 and set 3 nets in the top willows by 06:30. I don't think I miss much by not being set up at first light at this time of year and the 71 new birds and 3 retraps caught by 11:00 this morning certainly didn't undermine that view. However, I will make more effort to get up before first light from early August onwards, when migration really starts to get going, by which time getting up a daft o'clock won't seem quite as daft and will be helped by the shortening days.

It was still very warm this morning and I was already starting to sweat by the time I had loaded the car. I don't mind heat and humidity but I am not so keen on some of the insect life that comes with it and Clegs and Horse Flies in particular. Clegs were a real nuisance today and they often seemed to strike when my hands were busy and I couldn't brush them away. On numerous occasions I would be taking a bird out of a net and then would feel something biting me on the shoulder or more annoyingly where I could see it on my arm or chest. I didn't keep count but I probably had as many encounters with Clegs as I did with birds today.

I did give this Cleg a bit of a smack before I photographed it, so it is stunned and not actually biting me. While I don't mind mosquitoes biting me and have photographed them doing so (link here) I draw the line with these critters - they hurt.
Flies aside it was an excellent ringing session with better than expected numbers of Blackcaps (18 new birds) and Willow Warblers (18 new birds & 2 retraps). Goldfinch numbers are starting to build now that some of the Knapweed is going to seed and they were well represented in the totals with 13 ringed. Once again tits were very thin on the ground and Long-tailed Tits were absent. Its not that I want to catch more tits, I don't, but I am concerned about the state of their populations as they seem to have had a really poor breeding season in this area this year.

Today's ringing totals (retraps in brackets) were: Wren 1; Blackbird 1; Goldcrest 1 (1); Blackcap 18; Chiffchaff 8; Willow Warbler 18 (2); Blue Tit 3; Great Tit 4; Goldfinch 13; Lesser Redpoll 1; Yellowhammer 2; Reed Bunting 1.

15 of the 18 Blackcaps ringed were juveniles like this bird.

Juvenile Goldfinch. All bar one of the Goldfinches ringed were juveniles.

Both Yellowhammers that were ringed were adult males.

Same adult male Yellowhammer as above.

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