Sunday, 16 December 2012

'Net shy' finches rule the day

I met up with John G at 7:00am this morning and we walked up to the ringing site at Longshaw. We had 3 nets up by first light and waited for the first birds to arrive. I had put out an MP3 lure playing Grey Wagtail as one had flown over at dawn on each of the last few ringing sessions. Like clockwork one came over, it dropped down to the lure and was caught.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
A few Blackbirds were attracted to the apples I had put out during the week and several were amongst the first birds to be caught. Plenty of Bramblings and Chaffinches started to arrive but seemed reluctant to settle. Conditions were perfect at first but some mist and fog started to develop which didn’t help but it was obvious that the birds had the situation sussed anyway. Looking at the birds that perched in the tops of the willows it was obvious that a good proportion were already ringed.

It is not unusual for some birds to learn to avoid mist nets and to become ‘net shy’, especially where there’s a fairly static population and a regular ringing routine using the same net rides. It can be counteracted to some degree by leaving bigger intervals between ringing sessions, changing net positions and times of visits and I will be doing this over the coming weeks now that catching rates have fallen off.

Whilst we didn’t get the numbers we had hoped for we did get some variety with the aforementioned Grey Wagtail, a Reed Bunting and a very benign Jay that didn’t take any chunks out of us like they usually do. A few finches did get caught towards the end of the session including 4 new Bramblings and a control Greenfinch (ringed elsewhere) ring number starting TT09___.

male Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Jay (Garrulus glandarius), a relatively benign individual but if looks could kill......

Ringing totals with retraps in brackets.
Blackbird 6 (1)
Grey Wagtail 1
Jay 1
Reed Bunting 1
Chaffinch 5 (1)
Brambling 4 (1)
Great Tit 2 - (1)
Greenfinch 1 (1 control)
Blue Tit (4)
Dunnock – (3)
Robin – (1)
Total 21 new birds, 12 retraps and 1 control.

I ventured onto Orrell Water Park in the afternoon to check out the gulls. There were plenty of Black-headed Gulls but only one ringed bird and that was the German ringed bird that I have recorded several times now.
On thin ice, Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus).

Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) in action.

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