Saturday, 8 July 2017

Billinge: 4th & 7th July 2017

4th July
This was a dual purpose evening visit to do a bit of ringing and work on clearing some of the summer's growth from one of the net rides in the top willows. I didn't get to site as early as I had originally planned so I only put up one 18m net rather than two as intended but that didn't matter as there was plenty of pruning to do.

The single net produced a trickle of birds which left me enough time to get another net ride cleared and ready for the rest of the autumn. As sunset approached I started to think about packing up but then some Swallows appeared so I stayed until they came into roost and I ended up catching 25 of them. The final ringing totals (retraps in brackets) were: Blue Tit 1; Swallow 25; Chiffchaff 2 (1); Willow Warbler 4 (2); Blackcap 2; Goldfinch 1. Total 35 new birds and 3 retraps.

7th July
I only got up after the 3rd alarm and some snoozing so not the early start that I had intended. I set 3 nets in the NE corner of the site and was set up by 06:40. Two Grasshopper Warblers were reeling nearby with one being in the same area as a bird recorded in early May but the other was singing in a less expected location and was reeling in the adjacent field of barley.

The catching rate was slow to start with but improved as the morning went on, although it didn't get busy. Highlights were 2 juvenile and an adult Grasshopper Warbler with the adult being a retrap male that was originally ringed on 2nd May this year. This strongly suggest they have bred successfully and constitutes the first breeding record for the site, although a bird held a territory last year and may have bred. The rest of the catch was fairly typical for this part of the site at this time of year and included the first juvenile Goldcrests and a juvenile Willow Tit.

Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler

Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler,

The two juvenile Grasshopper Warblers showed some of the variation in colour this species can display with one having mainly white underparts and the other having buff coloured underparts.

Juvenile Goldcrests always look scruffy as they go through their post-juvenile moult

This bird was just starting to show orange feathers (encased in sheath) growing in the crown which meant it could be sexed as a male. 

Juvenile Willow Tit.
Another feature of the site at this time of year are frequent encounters horse-flies and clegs and I donated far too much blood to their kind during the session. Luckily I haven't had any adverse reactions but these insects will continue to be a pain in the neck or other parts of the body during visits over the next few weeks.

There was a little bit of movement overhead with 1 Siskin heading south and 3 singles heading north and a Grey Wagtail heading south was particularly early for that species to be on the move.

Ringing totals for the 7th were: Goldcrest 2; Blue Tit 5; Great Tit 4; Coal Tit 1; Willow Tit 1; Chiffchaff 7; Willow Warbler 2; Blackcap 1; Grashopper Warbler 2 (1); Wren 1; Robin 1; Bullfinch (1). Total 27 new birds and 2 retraps.

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