Monday, 19 September 2016

Billinge: 15th & 18th September 2016

The 15th was one of those days were expectations were high but very murky conditions stifled overhead passage and kiboshed my hopes of a good catch of Meadow Pipits and Grey Wagtails. Visibility was poor and restricted to about 1 or 2 km for much of the morning and while you could call it misty the vegetation and nets remained bone dry because of the high temperature. Some birds were moving despite the conditions and a few Meadow Pipits shot through and the odd Siskin and Song Thrush was heard calling through the murk but there were big gaps with nothing moving overhead.

Fortunately there were a good few birds in the bushes and a total of 49 were caught. Chiffchaffs topped the totals once again with 15 new birds and 1 retrap but Goldcrests weren't far behind with 12 new birds and a control (a bird ringed elsewhere). It shouldn't take long to get the ringing details back for this bird and it will be interesting to find out when and where it was ringed as we are still in the early stages of autumn migration for this species.

Control Goldcrest.
Details of when and where it was ringed will be posted in due course.
The remainder of the catch didn't produce any surprises and the totals for the morning were: Goldcrest 12 (1); Blue Tit 1; Coal Tit 1; Chiffchaff 15 (1); Willow Warbler 1; Blackcap 6 (1); Robin 4; Dunnock 1; Bullfinch 1; Lesser Redpoll 1; Reed Bunting 3. Total 46 new birds, 2 retraps and 1 control.

The crown feathers of one of the Blackcaps was a mixture of brown and black with the individual feathers being a mixture of colours rather than some of the feathers being brown and others being black. A small proportion of male Blackcaps have some brown in the crown like this bird although the amount does vary.
I suppose you could call it a brown crown with black highlights or streaks.

September usually sees some good movements of Robins through the site but numbers have been much lower than usual so far this autumn. 
The 18th started off a bit misty but soon became depressingly foggy. The fog just wouldn't burn off and although it thinned from time to time it didn't finally clear until late in the morning when it was time to start packing up. The conditions severely limited movement overhead, as you would expect, although the occasional stratospheric Siskin was heard and the fog also made the nets more visible for much of the session.

One or two Song Thrushes were calling as I was setting up so it wasn't a surprise when one was in the net on the first round. However, it wasn't one of the locals and its colder and more olive upper parts pointed to it being of continental origin. The first migrant Song Thrushes usually arrive in early to mid September and more continental birds reach this part of the country than is often appreciated.

The catching rate was much slower than the final total of 40 new birds might suggest and there were several blank net rounds. Goldcrests topped the totals and the 18 ringed is the biggest catch of the autumn to date. It also brought the number ringed so far this month to 106. There were very few Chiffchaffs around compared to recent visits and only 4 were ringed but Blackcaps continue to move through the site in similar numbers with another 6 being caught.

Ringing totals for 18/09/16 were: Goldcrest 18; Blue Tit 1; Great Tit 1; Chiffchaff 4; Blackcap 6; Wren 1; Song Thrush 1; Robin 3; Chaffinch 5. Total 40 new birds.

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