Out on Rawcliffe Moss and after making the effort for a 0600 start the catching was initially slow whereby at 0740 we had caught just 4 birds. Will and I worried the session might end sooner than later, but just as the 100% cloud cover slowly opened out to patches of blue sky, birds appeared both in and over the plantation. The morning proved to be both interesting and fruitful, ending on a high with the sighting of a female Marsh Harrier hunting distant fields over towards St Michael’s.
32 birds of 12 species caught, 31 new and 1 recapture, with highlights being the mix of warblers which included more Whitethroats and the beginnings of Chaffinch dispersal from further north of Lancashire. New birds: 14 Chaffinch, 5 Whitethroat, 3 Dunnock, plus one each of Tree Pipit, Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and Blue Tit. After a hint of Chaffinch beginning their autumn dispersal last week, today the movement was more definite with 14 new Chaffinch of which 13 were juveniles, an autumn ratio which does not surprise us. Soon after 0800 Chaffinches began to arrive in singles and small groups from the north, some diving into the plantation, others continuing south. We estimated 80+ by the time we left at 1115.
The Whitethroat recapture proved to be a male originally ringed here on 30th May 2012, the bird having by now undergone a complete moult and so in immaculate condition, ready to head back to Africa. The juveniles complete the same journey having undergone a partial moult only. Note the differing eye colours of adult and juvenile.
Whitethroat - adult
Whitethroat - adult
Whitethroat - juvenile
We counted 3+ Tree Pipits over today, one of which we caught.
Just singles of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff today with perhaps one or two additional birds not finding the nets.
We caught the Blackcap at first light, the Whitethroats later, all of which had been consuming Blackberries but perhaps not the Reed Warbler.
Just like last week, the Lesser Redpoll proved to be a moulting adult, this one a male.
We catch very few Greenfinch here but a singleton today plus a Goldfinch in the net next to Niger feeders which remain quite full with so much natural food still about.
There was a noticeable movement south of hirundines today, unusual in that the majority of the birds were c40+ high flying Sand Martins with lesser numbers of Swallows and House Martins. Other birds: 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Buzzard, 3 Golden Plover over, 2 Raven over, 150+ Teal, the latter possibly disturbed from their wildfowler fed pool by the quartering Marsh Harrier which came in from the west then disappeared from view during heavy rain with car windows up. Sorry, no pictures of the harrier it being too distant in the gloom of yet another downpour.
All in all a very satisfying and productive day with the continuance of the Chaffinch passage and the prospect of many more Chaffinches to come in the weeks ahead.