Friday, 23 December 2016

Goldcrest controls autumn 2016

A total of 757 different Goldcrests were handled at Billinge this year which is a phenomenal total for an inland location and follows on from the 705 caught during 2015. The discovery of this volume of migration through the site has been one of the major findings that ringing has revealed over the last three years and is certainly something I hadn't expected.

The vast majority of birds are caught in the autumn and, in 2016, that started with the appearance of dispersing juveniles in July and August. Autumn migration proper got into full swing in early September and continued throughout October and into the first half of November, before finally fizzling out at the beginning of December. Monthly totals (new birds only) for the second half of 2016 were: July 10; August 39; September 237; October 377; November 85; December 2.

There were 4 controls (birds ringed elsewhere) amongst the birds caught this autumn but, surprisingly, not a single retrap from 2015. This lack of retraps is in stark contrast to the situation in my garden, just a couple of km away, where I ringed 4 Goldcrests in late November / early December 2015 and retrapped 2 of them amongst the 5 caught during a similar period this year. I know the ringing in my garden only involves small numbers by comparison and was outside the main autumn migration period but it does help to emphasise the migratory nature of the birds that move through Billinge.

Details of each of the controls are given below and on the following map. 

6T1477       Goldcrest 4F
Ringed        04/10/2015  Oxmoor Wood, Runcorn, Halton.
Controlled   09/10/2016  Billinge Hill, Merseyside. 17km N, duration 371 days.

This bird was on passage when ringed at Oxmoor and its recapture at Billinge just over a year later, also when on passage, shows it was following a similar timing and route through the region.


HDB361      Goldcrest 3M (photo below)
Ringed        04/09/2016 South Walney, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Controlled   15/09/2016 Billinge Hill, Merseyside. 68km SSE, duration 11 days.

This bird is likely to have originated from a breeding site in the far north of England or Scotland.

HDB361 Goldcrest 15/09/2016

HHJ969       Goldcrest 3M (photo below)
Ringed         05/10/2016 The Headland, Hartepool.
Controlled    14/10/2016  Billinge Hill, Merseyside. 165km SW, duration 9 days.

When it was controlled this Goldcrest was considered to be a 'continental' migrant from its appearance and the ringing location on the east coast just 9 days earlier certainly supports that. This is the second Goldcrest controlled at Billinge to have come from The Headland at Hartlepool, with the first being last year. 

HHJ969 Goldcrest 14/10/2016

HXN392       Goldcrest 3F (photo below)
Ringed         14/10/2016 Isle Of May, Fife, Scotland.
Controlled    03/11/2016 Billinge Hill, Merseyside. 299km S, duration 20 days.

This Goldcrest was also considered to be a 'continental' bird when it was controlled and again the ringing location fully supports that. There was a big 'fall' of migrants on the Isle of May on 14th October that included 400 Goldcrests, 300 Robins, 400 Song Thrush, 150 Blackbirds, and 119 Brambling, just to list a few of the species and numbers recorded on the island that day.

HXN392 Goldcrest 03/11/2016

The yellow pins mark the ringing site of each Goldcrest and the purple pin marks the site at Billinge.

.................................................and as it is that time of year

......Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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