Monday, 25 February 2019

Crawford: 24/02/2019

Fog delayed the start of the session and strong sunshine brought it to a close but in the two and a half hours the tall hedgerow provided shade for the 18m net a decent total of 41 new birds and 5 retraps were caught. The catch was dominated by Goldfinches but a few more Tree Sparrows appear to have found the seed and 9 were caught along with a couple of House Sparrows. There was no sign of farmland species like Yellowhammer but they may still be finding enough food in the surrounding fields. It appears to be a similar story with Corn Bunting with birds thinly scattered across the adjacent farmland and some appearing to be back on territory.

Tree Sparrows have increased in this area in recent years but their distribution is patchy and they are still absent from some of their former haunts.

House Sparrows don't seem to be doing very well anywhere and while the steep decline in their numbers may have levelled off to some extent there doesn't seem to be any indication their numbers are likely to recover anytime soon. 
The current spell of unseasonably warm weather is clearly having an effect with a Linnet back on territory and singing at the ringing site; Chaffinch, Goldcrest and Song Thrush were also in full song. Spring was in the air for Dunnocks too with a lot of singing, wing flicking and chasing going on while a pair of Long-tailed Tits was prospecting for a nest site in the brambles. A reminder that we are still in winter came in the form of a male Chaffinch and a male Blackbird that were caught and found to have long wing lengths. Both of these birds were likely to be winter visitors from the continent with the colour of the underparts of the Chaffinch also pointing to a continental origin.

Ringing totals for 24/02/2019 were: Blue Tit 6 (4); Great Tit 2 (1); Blackbird 2; House Sparrow 2; Tree Sparrow 9; Dunnock 1; Chaffinch 2; Goldfinch 17.

Monday, 18 February 2019

First outing in a while.

I obviously I haven't posted anything on the blog for a couple of months and that has been due to a number of factors, not least two more deaths in the family, but I have been keeping my hand in by doing a bit of ringing in the garden and keeping a look out for ringed gulls on Orrell Water Park.

However, I started baiting the farmland ringing site a Crawford a couple of weeks ago and decided to make my first ringing visit this morning. I knew there were plenty of birds coming to the feeders from the numbers I had seen on my last visit to top them up and by the rate the seed was being eaten so I only set up one 18m net.

The catching rate was brisk, as can be the case when you haven't ringed at a site for some time, and 18 birds were caught within 20 minutes of the net going up. The catching rate remained fairly brisk despite a bit of a breeze developing and a total of 50 birds were caught in a little over two hours. Not bad going for my first ringing session away from the garden this year.

This looks like a fairly standard male Goldfinch from this angle.

However, its chin was pure white and bisected the red bib.

This patch of white feathers wasn't quite symmetrical but certainly made for an interesting looking bird

Only 2 Tree Sparrows were caught but there was a flock of about 15 feeding near the net and more are likely to be caught on subsequent visits.

Ringing totals for 18/02/2019 were: Blue Tit 8; Great Tit 2; Long-tailed Tit 2; Song Thrush 1; Robin 3; House Sparrow 1; Tree Sparrow 2; Dunnock 6; Chaffinch 2; Goldfinch 23.