Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Provisional October Totals

More trick than treat and well down on last year. Some data may be outstanding but totals for the month are well down with 390 new birds ringed in the month compared with 678 last year. This is not a scientific analysis, far from it, but the trends are clear and many species are well. Blue Tit and Great Tit are good examples and are down by about 50% whilst Coal Tit totals have bucked the trend and have almost doubled. This seems to be in line with national trends. Dunnock have shown the most dramatic decline with only 2 ringed in October this year compared with 17 last year.
Top 5 species ringed in the month were:
1st     Greenfinch    74
2nd    Goldfinch       72
3rd     Goldcrest      45
4th     Blue Tit          36
5th     Great Tit        30
=5th   Coot              30
On a visit to Pennington Flash today I was told a dead Black-headed Gull had been saved for me because it was ringed. It had been picked up last week and left in a bin bag so could have been a bit smelly. It wasn’t too bad and was a first year bird wearing a Danish ring. Not a bad way to end the month.

Not the full number in the photo but no question where it came from.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Christmas is coming

I went up to Haigh this morning as I have been baiting the site all week and it also offered the best chance of shelter from the cold northerly wind. It felt more like winter than late October with a very sharp frost. I soon regretted wearing wellies with thin socks as I quickly lost the circulation in my toes; very painful.

I put up a 60ft and 30ft net in the usual dog leg and also set up 3 MP3 lures. In general the catching rate was what you might call steady all morning but there were far fewer Chaffinches than expected given the habitat. The MP3 lures added 8 Goldcrests and 4 Lesser Redpolls to the catch and possibly helped the Greenfinch totals too.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Visible migration was dominated by Pink-footed Geese with at least 750 birds in 5 skeins flying south-east. At least 4 other skeins were heard and not seen so the total could have easily exceeded 1,000. Around 80 Redwings were seen flying west and 3 Fieldfares flew north. Only 6 Redpolls were recorded, 4 of which were caught and a group of 3 Siskins flew north.

Ringing totals were (recaptures in brackets):

Greenfinch 28 (1)
Goldcrest 8
Lesser Redpoll 4
Goldfinch 1
Chaffinch 7 (1)
Bullfinch 2 (1)
Great Tit 13 (1)
Blue Tit 7 (2)
Coal Tit 1 (3)
Robin 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Dunnock (1)
Totals 73 new birds (+10 retraps)

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
After returning home and lunch I walked across the road to Orrell Water Park to check out the Black-headed Gulls for rings/darvics. I took the big camera and long lens so I could photograph any ringed birds. The only ringed Black-headed Gull was an adult wearing a chunky foreign type ring. I managed to take enough photos to get the full number and address which showed it was ringed in Germany. This is the first German Black-headed Gull I have controlled.
German ringed Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) photographed Orrell Water Park 27.10.12

Monday, 22 October 2012

Blue Sky Thinking

That sums up the weekend just gone for me, lots of lovely blue sky but sod all in it so plenty of time for thinking about what could have been. This October has been really disappointing for visible migration compared to last year. This must be a reflection of a very poor breeding season overall and not just be down to the weather conditions. A few Meadow Pipits went south but precious few finches. Even fewer Redwings were going this way and that, as can happen when they first arrive, but blink and you would miss them. A fair number of Wood Pigeons went south but were probably outnumbered by feral and racing pigeons going in all directions. Best bird of the weekend for me was a single Crossbill going north over Haigh Hall on Sunday morning.

Looking north at my ringing site at Haigh

Nice tree, shame about the empty sky.
Ringing-wise I didn’t do too badly over the weekend with 93 new birds ringed and 24 recaptures processed but this was a result of a lot of effort. The only species present in similar numbers to last year are the Goldfinches in my garden but numbers have built up a month or so later than last year. Even now some of the birds caught are in full juvenile plumage and some adults are still only just completing their moult indicating an extended breeding season and that later broods have been more successful. This has been commented on in other blogs and seems to be the general trend, in the north-west at least. Notable ringing milestones reached for the year were Goldcrest going through the 100 barrier for the first time, a direct result of effective use of MP3 lures and my fascination with them.

Juvenile Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) caught 20/10/12
Ringing sessions over the weekend included: Longshaw, Scotman’s Flash, Haigh Country Park, two short sessions in my garden at Orrell and an hour in a garden in Hindley. Weekend totals were (recaptures in brackets):

Blackcap 1
Blue Tit 16 (8)
Bullfinch 2 (1)
Chaffinch 6
Coal Tit 1 (3)
Goldcrest 11
Goldfinch 15 (1)
Collared Dove 1
Great Tit 6 (5)
Greenfinch 22 (1)
Lesser Redpoll 4
Reed Bunting 2 (1)
Robin 2 (1)
Willow Tit 2
Wren 2
Nuthatch (2)
Dunnock (1)
Total 93 (24)

Anyway it is all going to change from tomorrow. Birds piling in on the east coast today will make their presence felt, followed by more birds pushed by cold weather coming in later in the week. We hope.

Cold weather should make following the satellite tagged Woodcock interesting: They should really start to move.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Really Fogged Off

My heart sank when mist and fog were forecast for this morning and sank further still when I got up at 05:50 to find the forecast was correct. Fog is generally bad news for ringing as it can suppress any migration and makes nets easier to see. I had three choices – go back to bed, watch the Korean Grand Prix or go ringing at Longshaw as planned and hope that it would lift quite quickly.

Sunrise through the gloom at a foggy Longshaw ringing site.

Adjacent farmland through the gloom.
I went with the latter and hoped the fog would burn off leaving clear blue skies and stimulating some movement. I put up a couple of nets and set up a couple of mp3 lures playing Grey Wagtail and Goldcrest initially. The first round of the nets lifted my spirits a little with a Grey Wagtail and Song Thrush being caught. The Song Thrush appeared to be a continental bird being more olive grey on the upper parts, especially noticeable on the nape,mantle and rump unlike our much browner British version.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos).
The generally olive-grey upperpart of this bird suggested it was of continental origin.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos). Olive-grey back and rump suggest this bird is of continental origin.
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

The fog looked like it would clear quite quickly at first and allowed few birds to move but then closed in again, only finally clearing at 11:30. A few Song Thrushes were calling from the bushes and 3 others flew south east but only two Redwings were seen. The first Brambling of the autumn was heard and 4 Reed Buntings moved south through the bushes. A single Redpoll appeared through the gloom followed much later by a group of 3 as the sun came out. Meagre pickings from what would have been a really good day, without the fog that is.
male Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Ringing totals:
Grey Wagtail 1
Lesser Redpoll 2
Blue Tit 2
Long-tailed Tit 2
Song Thrush 1
Blackbird 1
Wren 1
Goldcrest 1
Coal Tit 1
Reed Bunting 1
Robin 1
Total 14

Saturday, 13 October 2012

13th October 2012

I went up to Haigh this morning with John G and put up a couple of nets. I have been baiting the area for over a week but was also hoping to draw in some passage birds and more Goldcrests. Passage was very disappointing considering the conditions with very few birds on the move. Only 4 Redpolls were seen 2 of which were caught. Other finches on the move were limited to small numbers of Greenfinches and even fewer Chaffinches and Goldfinches and some of these could have just been local feeding flights rather than migration. The first Fieldfare of the autumn flew north and few Song Thrushes dropped in with 5 or 6 blogging about in the tree tops for a while. Two Blackbirds also dropped in from height typical of migrants and a few Redwings were heard.

Greenfinches topped the totals but 9 Coal Tits and 8 Goldcrests came in a respectable second and third place for new birds ringed.
Messy eater, This Greenfinch has clearly been feeding on rose hips.

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Haigh Hall Totals
Greenfinch  21
Coal Tit  9 (+4)
Goldcrest  8
Great Tit  5 (+5)
Blue Tit 2  (+5)
Chaffinch  3 (+1)
Nuthatch  1 (+2)
Lesser Redpoll  2
Goldfinch  1
Bullfinch  1
Wren  1
Total  55 (+17)

On getting home the calm conditions allowed me to put a net up in the garden; the 11 Goldfinches ringed bringing the total ringed there to 83 so far this autumn. 

Orrell Garden Totals

Goldfinch  11 (+1)
Collared Dove  2
Starling  1
Blackbird  1
Blue Tit  1
Total  16 (+1)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

September Ringing Totals

I have finally updated the annual ringing totals up to the end of September and changed them to the group totals rather than from my efforts alone. The monthly totals for September were very good with 1232 birds ringed of 31 species with Swallow topping the species totals at 839. 

The top five species ringed in September were:
1st Swallow 839
2nd Reed Warbler 84
3rd Goldfinch 65
4th Goldcrest 56
5th Chiffchaff 36

The number of Goldcrests ringed was particularly pleasing and another 18 have already been added to that total in October. The majority of these birds have been ringed at Haigh Hall with 34 ringed in September and 12 so far in October.
Swallow (Hirundo rustica) ringed at Scotman's Flash, Wigan

Monday, 8 October 2012

Sunday 7th October

Yesterday started off with a morning ringing session at Haigh. I had been baiting the site for a few days so I knew I was guaranteed a few birds but Goldcrests were the main interest. On arrival I heard my first Redwings of the autumn and at first light 60 or so flew out of the canopy.
I put up two nets; one near the feed and another near a large area of brambles that still have a good crop of blackberries in the hope of a few Blackcaps. I put on a Goldcrest lure and 6 new birds were caught within a few minutes. After that initial little rush the morning progressed in a steady fashion.

Overhead there was very little southerly passage apart from a few Meadow Pipits, House Martins, Swallows and Chaffinches. A few more Redwings blogged about in random directions along with one or two Song Thrushes but that was about it for visible migration. A very poor showing for the time of year and probably not helped by rolling banks of fog that affected the region.

Goldcrest topped the ringing totals with 12 new birds but two Jays made the biggest impression; on me at least. The biggest surprise was the complete absence of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.
Yes they really do hurt and they both got my finger in the same place.
Haigh Totals
Goldcrest 12
Coal Tit 6 (+3)
Great Tit 6 (+3)
Blue Tit 5 (+3)
Nuthatch 3 (+1)
Goldfinch 3
Chaffinch 2
Robin 2
Jay 2
Lesser Redpoll 1
Wren 1
Total 43 new (+10 retraps)
I briefly called at my mothers on my way home and the calls of Goldcrests tempted me to put up a net in the garden which added another two and a Dunnock to the day’s total.

Adult female Goldcrest

Adult Goldcrest tail feather shape

On getting home I rounded off the day trying for a few Goldfinches in the garden in near perfect conditions. Another 19 birds were added to the ringing totals including 13 new Goldfinches. 

Final ringing totals for the day were:
Goldcrest 14
Coal Tit 6 (+3)
Great Tit 6 (+3)
Blue Tit 5 (+3)
Nuthatch 3 (+1)
Goldfinch 16 (+2)
Chaffinch 2
Robin 3
Jay 2
Lesser Redpoll 1
Wren 1
Collared Dove 1
Dunnock 2
House Sparrow 1
Total 63 new (+12 retraps)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Yellow-browed Warbler brightens a quiet day

The fairly light winds tempted me to try a late afternoon and evening ringing session at Scotman’s Flash to see if there were any late Reed Warblers present or Swallows coming to roost. I only put up two nets; one in the reeds and another in a patch of willows within the reeds. 

Willow net ride
The net in the willows produced the only birds starting with a Chiffchaff, a Blue Tit and two Willow Tits. The second Willow Tit had just gone in the net when I noticed a small warbler flitting in the crown of the large willow at the side of the net. As soon as I got my bins on it I was blown away by a stunning Yellow-browed Warbler illuminated by the last rays of the day’s sunshine. I watched it for about 15 seconds before it was lost to view. I scanned the bush for a minute or so but couldn’t relocate it and then realised why; it was in the bottom of the net.

Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)

Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)

Scotman’s Ringing Totals
Chiffchaff 1
Yellow-browed Warbler 1
Blue Tit 3
Willow Tit 1 (+1)
Total 7 

I had been out ringing earlier in the day at Longshaw but packed up after a couple of hours as the ringing was so slow. There was virtually nothing passing overhead despite the clear blue skies and very little in the bushes. 

Longshaw Totals
Goldcrest 2
Chiffchaff 1
Treecreeper 1
Blackcap 2
Coal Tit 1
Robin 1
Total 8
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)