Saturday, 6 August 2016

Billinge: 6th August 2016

I was joined by a trainee from Merseyside Ringing Group at Billinge this morning and we had 3 nets set up in the top willows just after sunrise. The weather was near perfect for most of the session with no wind to speak of and broken cloud keeping the sun off the nets most of the time. A breeze did pick up towards the end of the morning but the catching rate had already slowed by then and we were thinking about packing up anyway.

The catching rate was fairly steady from the off with Willow Warbler being the most numerous species; the 27 new and single retrap caught being the highest day total of the autumn so far. Most of the juvenile Willow Warblers have completed or very nearly completed their post juvenile moult, as is to be expected by this date, so the capture of a recently fledged youngster in full juvenile plumage was a bit of a surprise.

This recently fledged juvenile Willow Warbler really stood compared to the freshly moulted  and very neat lemon yellow juveniles from earlier broods.
I didn't take any photos of today's juvenile Willow Warblers that had completed their pj moult so here is one from the other day for compaison.
Regular readers of this blog will know my interest in the occurrences of Acros at the site and Sedge Warblers in particular (link here). The capture of yet another adult Sedge Warbler only deepened that interest as it keeps the proportion of adults caught unexpectedly high. However, I am beginning to think the proportion of adults to juveniles recorded could be a true reflection of the population that migrates through the area, although the usual caveats about the small sample size needs to be borne in mind. Perhaps the proportion of adults caught on migration in reedbeds is lower than that in the overall population rather than the numbers at Billinge being too high.

Another adult Sedge Warbler - 3 of the six Sedge Warblers caught this autumn have been adults making it a total of 6 adults out of 16 in the last 3 autumns.
I was full of hope for a good movement of Tree Pipits following yesterdays capture of 3 but it was not to be and we had to settle for just one. While it was the only Tree Pipit recorded at Billinge today others were on the move as 2 were caught at Oxmoor, 17 km to the south and another at Woolston, 18 km south east (info from MRG).

Today's token Tree Pipit
A Garden Warbler, caught towards the end of the session, was the first to be ringed this autumn. They are not common in the area and only occur at the site as a relatively scarce passage migrant (6 were ringed in autumn 2014 and 4 in autumn 2015 with most records coming in August).

1cy Garden Warbler
I suppose I can't finish without mentioning tits again or I should say the lack of them. Once again they were very thin on the ground and none were caught which is exceptional for this time of year. A couple of Blue Tits were seen and both Willow Tit and Coal Tit were heard but that was about it.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) were: Goldcrest 1; Chiffchaff 7 (1); Willow Warbler 27 (1); Blackcap 5; Garden Warbler 1; Whitethroat 1; Sedge Warbler 1; Wren 1; Blackbird 1; Robin 1; Tree Pipit 1; Chaffinch 2; Goldfinch 1; Linnet 4; Lesser Redpoll 1. Total 55 new birds and 2 retraps.

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