Saturday, 3 September 2016

Billinge: 3rd September 2016

The weather forecast for this morning showed a band of rain moving in from the west and south west. The only question was the timing with one forecast showing the rain arriving at 09:00 and another showing it arriving a bit later, at 11:00. Either way there was an opportunity to get out for at least a couple of hours before any rain arrived. 

I set the 3 nets in the top willows before first light and in what were near perfect conditions. As the light levels rose it was clear that there were a few birds around with the calls of Chiffchaffs interspersed by the occasional tacking of Blackcaps. The first round produced 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps and a Bullfinch. One of the Blackcaps had the most striking appearance and had a series of pale bars across the wings and tail. These bars seemed to be caused by a lack of pigment in that part of the feathers and looked markedly different to typical fault bars. The feathers didn't look like they had any structural weakness as is usually the case with fault bars but the cause is still likely to be some form of nutritional deficiency when the bird was in the nest and the feathers were growing.

Not your typical fault bars.
Whatever the cause, it had a striking effect.
There didn't seem to be any Goldcrests around at first but it wasn't long before the first one was caught and by the end of the session a total of 11 had been ringed.  Most had completed their post juvenile moult, or very nearly so, but one was still largely in juvenile plumage. This 3J must have come from quite a late brood but then this species has a long breeding season and can still have young in the nest in early September.

This 3J Goldcrest is only just getting the first yellow and black feathers on its crown.
There were no surprises although Reed Buntings seemed to be around in better numbers than usual and this may reflect a good breeding season, locally at least. I haven't noted any passage of Reed Buntings yet but it won't be long now and usually starts about the same time as that of Meadow Pipits. The single Tree Pipit caught nicely brought the number ringed this autumn to 50 and hopefully won't be the last. It was also nice to catch a Whitethroat as I don't catch many in September; this bird also had a fault bar with the distal potion of the tail being much darker than the rest.

1cy Whitethroat. You can just see that the last quarter of the tail is darker than the rest.
I had to keep a wary eye on the weather and on the rainfall radar on my phone as the morning went and I could see the rain had reached Liverpool (about 20km away) by 08:30 so I took one of the nets down. The first few spots of rain arrived just after 09:00 and I had the other nets down soon after. The final total of 36 new birds and 3 retraps was quite good for what was a relatively short session.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 03/09/2016 were: Goldcrest 11; Coal Tit 1; Blue Tit 1; Great Tit 2; Chiffchaff 9 (3); Blackcap 4; Whitethroat 1; Wren 1; Tree Pipit 1; Chaffinch 2; Bullfinch 1; Reed Bunting 2.

No comments:

Post a Comment