The early morning text exchanges made the decision. Yes, it was a bit breezy but Will and I could go to the moss for a “vis mig” count, top up the feeders, and then if anywhere was sheltered, try and catch a few more thrushes. Any day now there should be a wave of northern thrushes heading over the mosslands, all we have to do is hit the right morning.
We set nets in the only two rides undisturbed by the south-easterly breeze, then listened and watched out for Redwings and Fieldfares, but also Song Thrushes and Blackbirds, both very much migrant species here in October. There was an initial flurry of mainly Redwings, about 130, with smaller number of less than 30 Fieldfares, both species heading slow, low and south into the headwind, but in the less than ideal conditions the burst of activity stopped quite quickly. So we still await a large push of birds, hopefully we will be there when it eventually takes place.
The sheltered “Niger” net caught most of the 12 birds, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 8 Goldfinch and 1 Chaffinch.
Despite the stiff breeze a number of Chaffinches in ones and twos toiled steadily into it, with less than 100 overall, but the Chaffinch numbers have been dropping recently, a sign their autumnal dispersal may be nearing the end. As Will and I both ring birds on their right leg let’s hope we can catch this left-footer before the Chaffinch dry up completely.
On last night’s BBC Autumn Watch there was a question from a viewer who recently saw lots of “black-billed Blackbirds”, but the query didn’t seem adequately answered by the programme. In October migrant Blackbirds, especially the first calendar year males have distinctly dull and dusky plumage which lacks the gloss of adult males. These young males also have dark brown to blackish bills, and often pale grey throats, so maybe the viewer had simply seen a number of immigrant Blackbirds? We saw a few “blackies” this morning, but didn’t catch any this time, just the brown thrushes above.
Birding wise we counted the following notables: 11 Grey Partridge, 4 Yellowhammer, 26 Corn Bunting, 75+ Linnet, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Barn Owl.