Sunday, 2 October 2016

Big day for our smallest bird.

After failing to get out yesterday morning (what a mistake that was as it produced the best vis mig of the autumn) I was glad to be back at Billinge today. A Goldcrest was calling as I was setting up the first net in the half light and several were calling by the time I had set up the second, so I was hopeful of a good catch. I got the 3rd and final net up as quick as I could and then went straight back to check the first two nets and found that only 5 Goldcrests had been caught.

Male Goldcrest

a closer look at that crown.
The first catch is often the best when there is a big movement of Goldcrests so I was a little disappointed that I hadn't caught more and there didn't seem to be a great many more around. While the bushes seemed to have gone quiet each successive net round produced more new Goldcrests and this continued until I packed up, just after midday. Goldcrests are usually quite conspicuous and vocal when there are a good number moving through the site but that wasn't the case today. The final total of 43 Goldcrests was a bit of a surprise and is easily the largest day total for the site - ringed or seen. 

This bird looks a bit scruffy around the head because it hasn't quite finished its post-juvenile moult.

It seems there has been quite a bit of late breeding in Goldcrests and other species this year resulting in more late moulting juveniles than I usually see. 
The nets also produced a few other bits and bobs with the 11 Chiffchaff being worthy of specific mention as it is a good number for the date, in this area at least. It also became the site's highest October day ringing total for the species. Normally catching tails off mid to late morning but not so today with birds caught in every net round and most of the Chiffchaffs being caught in the second half of the morning.

This pristine looking Chiffchaff has finished its post-juvenile moult but some of the others were in the latter stages and still had some growing body feathers or remnants of sheath.
There wasn't a huge amount of visible migration but there was a steady movement for most of the morning, mainly involving Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Siskins, Skylarks and a few Swallows. Two Song Thrushes went west, very high, and 2 similarly high flying Redwings went north. Later in the morning another 3 Redwings were seen leaving the site and also headed north.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 02/10/16 were: Goldcrest 43; Blue Tit 1; Coal Tit 2 (1); Long-tailed Tit 6 (1);  Chiffchaff 11; Blackcap 2; Robin 1; Dunnock 1; Chaffinch 2; Lesser Redpoll 1; Goldfinch 1. Total 71 new birds and 2 retraps.

While this adult female Blackcap is a likely to be a departing summer visitor it won't be long before their winter visiting counterparts start to arrive.

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