Sunday, July 22, 2012

Flocking Finches

With a flock of Goldfinch knocking about, overflying Siskins and Redpolls, and then an overhead Crossbill, this morning’s birding had a definite autumnal feel. Read on. 

After a two week gap caused by the persistent poor weather Will and I agreed to be on the moss for a 6am ringing session not knowing quite what to expect. By all the accounts on bird blogs, forums and websites the breeding season has been disastrous for open, near ground nesting insectivorous birds like Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler, perhaps less so for birds with nests in thick cover or tree situations, like Goldfinch, Linnet and Greenfinch; in the last week I have caught 16 Goldfinch in the garden, almost 50% of them juveniles. 

Today we caught 15 new birds, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Wren, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Chaffinch and 1 Great Tit. The catch was rather limited to be able to deduce much from the adult/juvenile ratio except that the three Whitethroats were all juveniles, but three only is not much of a catch on this site; sadly they were the first juvenile “whites” caught this year. On a more  postive note we watched a pair of Whitethroats still feeding young close to our ringing station, and if the better weather holds, the young should fledge. Today’s Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff numbers split 50/50 adults and juveniles. 

Although instructive to study, late July is not the ideal time to see birds in the hand, a time of year when most adults are in heavy moult, and even recently fledged youngsters start a partial moult of feathers. Today’s adult Garden Warbler had heavy wear to many feathers, especially noticeable in the primary coverts and tertials. 

Garden Warbler

The juvenile Chiffchaff is moulting head feathers. If in doubt, the emarginated 6th primary feather and shorter, more rounded wing shape distinguishes a Chiffchaff from a Willow Warbler. 

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Juvenile Whitethroats tend to look good a little longer than other juvenile warblers. 

Whitethroat

An adult female Blackcap showing considerable wear just about all over. 

Blackcap

The morning’s birding highlights proved to be: Siskins overhead from 6am, a noticeable southerly movement involving singles and small groups totalling 20+ birds, plus a minimum of 4 Lesser Redpoll heading south soon after 6 am. A single Crossbill called loudly as it flew north about 0900. 

Later we noted a flock of 75+ Goldfinch on thistles, an indication that for these birds at least, the breeding season is over. Small numbers of Linnets today with probably just local birds numbering 20+, and a token appearance for a couple of Greenfinches. 

Hirundines and Swifts: 100+ Swallow, 30+ House Martin, 6 Swift. My own thought is that many Swifts left last week, with a number of large concentrations seen, e.g. 300+ high over Cockerham Marsh on 20th July. 

Raptors today: 2 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 5 Buzzard.

Buzzard

The weathermen predict 30 degrees next week. If so there should be plenty of Buzzards in the air and lots of bunnies to go around, fat and healthy after eating all the lush greenery we have at the moment.

21 comments:

Roan said...

Another productive day of birding. I always learn something when I stop by.
Rubbish by Roan

Anni said...

Your posts are so very educational to us novice birders. I so enjoy visiting. What you call a buzzard, I think it looks more like a hawk of some kind. In USA...a buzzard is just another name for a vulture...at least I think so. LOL

Never the less I really liked viewing and reading your post, Phil.

grammie g said...

Hi Phil...Sorry I haven't been by, so busy painting the rails and deck so you will stop complaining about how bad they look when I show then in a post..lol!!
I wanted to say the last time I was by that I love the Hummingbirds on your header..chuckle chuckle!! ; }
Phil you make it sound as if summer is over..all doom and gloom, and did you really type 30 degrees???
Or is that kind of like you reading my Luna Moth at 45 inches instead of 4-5 inches ; }??
I think you have to chalk it up to a not so great season of ringing, and birding : { sorry to hear that, but things could pick up and you will be of in a ringing minute, with pliers and rings in hand!!
Your good old buddy where the sun has been shining and has been for 2 weeks with one little hick-up day of a 2 hour rain wishes you a great week ahead ; }
Grace

lp.are.the.best said...

Nice compilation of ringed birds :)

Gary said...

Another great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Isidro Ortiz said...

Buenas capturas,la del Ratonero me gusta mucho.Saludos

mick said...

I love the detail of your close-up bird photos.

Gemma Wiseman said...

A most interesting post! So love the macros highlighting the condition of these birds at this time of year!

Gary Jones said...

Phil, love the photos, especially the Buzzard, just posted a pic on my page!

Carole M. said...

you certainly are well versed with the birds you're handling Phil and all for a good cause. Lovely birds, and the buzzard updates will be interesting to see.....

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

How are you able to hold these in your hand? Marvelous shots! You always come away with so many on your outings.

Rohrerbot said...

Lovely shots up close. There are so tiny, aren't they? You have some really nice pics. I'm always afraid that I'd hurt the bird so I'll look at your work:)

Russell said...

These little brown passerines are very cute but must be difficult for the novice to id on the fly. You selection of photographs are excellent for comparisons. Hope you get the buzzards your expecting next week.

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

These are such beautiful birds, really!

El rincón de Ceditas said...

Me encantan los pájaros, me encanta contemplarlos cuando voy a Doñana.
Un abrazo

Anni said...

Ps...Phil, thanks for explaining the 'buzzard' hawk differences. I truly appreciate it, and helps me learn more of the feathered friends of the world.

Stuart Price said...

Wow, look at all those warblers...........

Vita Stunder said...

Amazing shots!

heyBJK said...

The buzzard is fantastic! Gorgeous shot!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Now how did I miss this, well just about miss it? Hmm...got to do better at keeping up! The Goldfinches are sure nice little birds and the buzzard was certainly paying close attention in your direction. Maybe I should take a note from his card deck;') Have a really great Wednesday Phil~

Stewart M said...

Given the reports of the weather from the UK it’s not really a shock that some birds have done badly.
We get similar ups and downs with the % juveniles in our wader catches - it will be interesting to see what we get when the waders come back to us.

Stewart M – Australia

PS: sorry about the lack of thumbnails this week – will get it right for WBW #3

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