Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Billinge 22/07/15

The days may be getting shorter but dawn is still a bit too early for my liking. However, I managed to drag myself out of bed at 05:30, after snoozing the alarm a few times, and made my way up to Billinge. There wasn't a breath of wind and it was nice and overcast so I was able to put up 3 nets in the willows on the higher part of the site. This area can be really good for warblers at this time of year and is also favoured by flocks of Goldfinches now the Knapweed is going to seed.

The first couple of hours were really busy and as soon as I had ringed the birds from one net round it was time to go and check the nets again. Willow Warblers featured with 12 ringed and this brings the total ringed at the site over the past ten days to 30. Some of the Willow Warblers have completed their post juvenile moult and could be on their way south. Other signs of juvenile dispersal/early migration also came in the form of a Sedge Warbler and a Garden Warbler, neither of which breed at the site.

This Willow Warbler may reach the south coast by the end of the month.

Sedge Warblers are another early migrant.

If looks could kill. The Garden Warbler didn't want to pose for a nice photograph and just gave me dirty looks.
Goldfinches were ever present and a flock of up to 50 fed in the vicinity of the nets with other smaller parties and family groups coming and going. The morning turned out to be a bit of a finch-fest with 32 Goldfinches being caught along with a supporting cast of 9 Linnets and singles of Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Bullfinch.

26 of the Goldfinches caught were juveniles like this one. Goldfinches seem to have had a fairly good breeding season and this species clearly benefits from the proliferation of garden feeding.
There seem to be fewer Linnets about compared with the same time last year which is probably a result of increased failures among the early broods.
The lack of roving tit flocks continues and only one group of 6 Long-tailed Tits and 2 Blue Tits were seen all morning. Large and noisy tit flocks are usually a feature at this time of year but their low numbers or complete absence shows what a terrible breeding season they have had in this area.

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) were: Willow Warbler 12; Chiffchaff 5; Blackcap 8; Whitethroat 1; Sedge Warbler 1; Garden Warbler 1; Robin 1; Long-tailed Tit 1; Goldcrest 1; Goldfinch 31 (1); Linnet 9; Greenfinch 1; Chaffinch 1; Bullfinch 1; Yellowhammer 1; Reed Bunting 1. Total 75 (1).

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