Sunday, 14 August 2016

Billinge: 14th August 2016

Just a quick post as I need to get some sleep ahead of another early start tomorrow. Another good session at Billinge produced 59 new birds and only 1 retrap in the form of a recently ringed Blue Tit.

Willow Warblers continue to move through the site in good numbers and topped the totals yet again with 28 ringed. The proportion of adult Willow Warblers has increased now that most have finished their moult and are migrating with 6 being caught today. Adult Willow Warblers do not hang around once they have moulted and may even start to fatten up in preparation for migration before the end of their moult.

Freshly moulted adult Willow Warblers

Adult Willow Warblers usually have a much whiter belly and stand out from the more lemon yellow juveniles.
The majority of Chiffchaffs are still in their scruffy juvenile plumage or in the early stages of their protracted post juvenile moult so it was a bit of a surprise to catch one that had completed its moult. It is not particularly early for it to have done so but it was well in advance of all the others that have been caught recently. The only Blackcap caught had also completed its post juvenile moult and both were a reminder of just how quickly the season is advancing.

1cy Chiffchaff looking much sleeker now that it has completed its pj moult.
I was hoping today would see the first good passage of Tree Pipits but again it wasn't to be and only 4 were ringed from a maximum of 4 or 5 recorded. It was very overcast this morning (even the odd spot of rain at one point) and there was very little in the way of wind so that may have suppressed movement. It is not often I wish for brighter conditions and a bit more of a breeze when I am ringing but that is what it might take to get more Tree Pipits on the move.

One of today's Tree Pipits.
An interesting Reed Bunting was caught in that it was one of those birds that can easily catch out the unwary and it would almost certainly be wrongly sexed if just being viewed at a distance with binoculars. Even in the hand it looked like a male at first glance having a largely black head and blackish bib and it even had a noticeably white collar. However, careful examination revealed it to be a well worn adult female with a brood patch. The state of the brood patch suggested she was in the later stages of a breeding cycle and had probably just fledged a late brood. That was supported by the calls of recently fledged Reed Buntings that were heard near to where she was caught. Having said all that I am sure there will be some people that will find it hard to believe that it is a female and not a male given its appearance.

Adult female Reed Bunting looking rather male like. The cloacal shape and brood patch confirmed it was a female. It also had a very short wing length.
Ringing totals for 14/08/2016 were: Goldcrest 3; Blue Tit 4 (1); Great Tit 3; Coal Tit 1; Swallow 1; Chiffchaff 4; Willow Warbler 28; Blackcap 1; Whitethroat 1; Wren 1; Robin; Tree Pipit 4; Chaffinch 3; Bullfinch 1; Goldfinch 1; Reed Bunting 2. Total 59 new birds and 1 retraps.

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