Saturday, 12 November 2016

Billinge: 8th & 11th November 2016

We may be at the tail end of the autumn but we haven't quite reached the end, just yet. I am still ringing at Billinge now and again but only when there is little or no wind in the forecast. The trees at the ringing site have lost more than 50% of their leaves so there is a lot less shelter than there was and I have to be even more picky about the weather as a result.

The 8th provided suitable conditions and I had 3 nets set up by first light. There were a few thrushes moving first thing but Redwing and Fieldfare totals combined only just got into 3 figures. A few Blackbirds were present with one of the birds caught having a long wing length suggesting continental origin. A Woodcock, flushed near one of the net rides, was only the second sighting of the autumn and may well have been newly arrived. However, the sighting of the morning was a Waxwing which was a site tick for me and also my first of the autumn. It wasn't a huge surprise given the numbers that have been coming into the country and it certainly looks like a we are in for good Waxwing winter.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 08/11/2016 were: Goldcrest 9; Great Tit 2; Blackbird 2 (2); Redwing 2; Robin (2) Chaffinch 1. Total 16 new birds and 4 retraps.

The 11th was more productive in terms of numbers ringed and Goldcrests topped the totals again with 15 ringed. This is a very good number for the date and shows that some are still moving. The total ringed this autumn now stands at 722 and there could be a few more to come.

And they keep coming. I never expected I would catch so many Goldcrests when I started ringing at the site.
Other than Goldcrests there was little evidence of migration save for a couple of hundred Woodpigeon heading north. Late movements of Woodpigeons are often in a northerly direction and it is tempting to speculate that these movements involve birds that previously went south and then return north for some reason. However, it is one of those mysteries of migration that we don't have the answer to and may never fully understand.

Other sightings of note were limited to 7 Brambling and 21 Mistle Thrush. The Bramblings were taking seeds from alder cones in the manner of Redpolls and this is something I have seen Bramblings do before at this time of year. The 21 Mistle Thrush was by far the largest flock I have seen for some time and was a bit of a surprise as it has been a poor autumn for this species at the site.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 11/11/2016 were: Goldcrest 15; Blue Tit 1; Great Tit 2; Coal Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 3; Wren 1; Blackbird 1 (2); Fieldfare 1; Song Thrush 1; Redwing 3; Dunnock 1; Chaffinch 1. Totals 31 new birds and 2 retraps.

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