I went up to Billinge this morning and set 3 nets in the north east corner of the site. I didn't expect to catch much but there were a few more birds around than I expected. Goldcrests led the way with 6 ringed and a 7th escaped from one of the nets before I got to it. All the Goldcrests will have been migrants and 2 were quite fat and weighed 6.2 g. The two heavy birds also had well demarcated pale grey napes which suggests they are of continental origin, they will have a long way to go to get back to their breeding grounds.
A Chiffchaff was singing not far from the nets and was my first of the year. This particular territory is usually the first to be occupied and I could see the bird was ringed so is likely to be the territory holder from last year. While the singing bird didn't find its way into the nets another male Chiffchaff did; this was an unringed bird which was a bit of a surprise as the first returning birds are nearly always retraps.
There was surprisingly little in the way of passage overhead and what there was didn't amount to much more than 3 Meadow Pipits going north. However, a lone Crossbill flying west north-west mid morning was a good spring record and made up for the general lack of numbers. Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) were: Goldcrest 6; Chiffchaff 1; Long-tailed Tit 2 (1); Blackbird 1; Robin 1; Bullfinch (1). Total 11 new birds and 2 retraps.