Saturday, 26 November 2016

Ringing update

I have not posted anything about my ringing activities recently but I have been quite busy despite the period of unsettled weather. The garden has been very productive with the feeders attracting a lot of Goldfinches and I have ringed 62 in the last couple of weeks along with few of the other resident garden species. The most unusual garden visitor, however, was a female Brambling which proved to be an adult when caught. I have also been getting quite a few Starlings coming to the fat cakes which is unusual for my garden at this time of year and this has allowed me to colour-ring 19 new Starlings as well as obtain over 50 re-sightings of further 21 individuals that were colour-ringed over the past couple of years.

I have not done much ringing away from the garden prior to the last few days because the weather hasn't been suitable, apart from the odd hour or two here and there which I took advantage of for garden ringing, but with the onset of settled conditions on Thursday (24th) I decided to see if there were any thrushes at the farmland site in Crawford. I set a line of 2 nets by the hawthorn hedge at first light and used audio lures for to attract any Redwings and Fieldfares that may be near by or passing over. There were a lot more thrushes around than I had expected and I caught 25 Redwings, 7 Blackbirds and a female Sparrowhawk in just over an hour. I saw well over 200 Fieldfares in total but, frustratingly, those that dropped into the hedge stayed just above net height. I packed up just after 9 am as I had other commitments but most movement had already stopped by that time.

Many of the Redwings have soil on their beaks which shows they are spending plenty of time feeding on soil invertebrates.
I went back yesterday morning (25th) and the same set up produced 37 Redwings and just 1 Blackbird in similar amount of time. Again there were a lot of Redwings and Fieldfares moving over the site in the period from first light to about half an hour after sunrise. I presume the ringing site is near or in between a roost site and favoured feeding locations as the movement slows down at sunrise and more or less stops not long after. The clear conditions has also seen some nocturnal movement as I have had Redwings calling overhead when I have been loading the car each morning so there is a chance some of the birds were migrating, although I suspect they are mainly local movements as previously outlined.

Another visit this morning saw a similarly brief but even bigger movement of thrushes that involved well over 200 Redwings and at least 350 Fieldfares. Unfortunately, I was extracting birds from the nets when some of the bigger flocks came over and those birds veered away when they saw me. The catch was still very good and was made up of 27 Redwings, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Blackbird and a Great Tit. Again nearly all the birds were caught in the first hour.

89 Redwings ringed in 3 mornings is good going in late November

There was a good frost this morning

There are plenty of berries around on the hedges as we have not had much in the way of frost prior to the last few days.
Although the conditions are forecast to be good again in the morning I am going to give the site a rest. It doesn't mean I will be having a rest as I may go up to Billinge to see if similar movement happens there as some of the Crawford thrushes were heading in that direction and it is only about 3km between the two sites.

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