Yes, The Lone Ringer would have welcomed an extra set of eyes plus an additional pair of hands to help out on Rawcliffe Moss this morning. Just as the BBC promised, there was a layer of white frost on the ground when I arrived, and when heading off to the net rides I found the resident ropes and mist net poles with an unpleasant coating of ice.
It was a slow, cold start but the morning soon warmed up, both bird and temperature wise into on an eventful, busy morning for ringing and watching bird migration in action. It’s at times like this when the ringing must take priority, with counts of overhead birds and those obviously passing through becoming approximations or missed entirely when hands and eyes are fully occupied with processing birds.
More of the “vis” later, but first the ringing which comprised mainly finches - 38 birds of 6 species, 16 Chaffinch, 17 Goldfinch, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Coal Tit and 1 Great Tit. Of the Chaffinches there were just 2 adults today, both of them males, with the remaining 14 juveniles split 11/3 in favour of males today. Of the Goldfinches all 17 birds proved to be first year birds in varying degrees of progression to first winter plumage.
I hope today was the start of the redpoll passage as they are infinitely more catchable than autumn Siskins.
Even as I arrived at 0630 and in the half-light there were Song Thrushes dodging along the farm track and then within minutes the first sounds of Siskins overhead. Soon after dawn 2 Mistle Thrushes came from the north before they too headed south. Mistle Thrushes have got really scarce in these parts, these two the first I have seen in months.
Siskins were to dominate the morning calls, eclipsing even the normal preponderance of Chaffinch here. By 1130 my approximation of both came to 100+ Siskin and 70 Chaffinch, with Lesser Redpoll trailing in third place at 10+. 2012 has certainly been a “Siskin Autumn” so far, a scenario which doesn’t necessarily translate into a Siskin winter if birds continue too far south and out of the UK. The Goldfinches caught today came from a flock of 120+ birds feeding nearby, and as ever on this site at this time of year, it is impossible to separate out any Goldfinches that may be on migration.
There was a reasonable passage of Meadow Pipits overhead, c90, but they were moving on a broad front with many west of my vantage point when I had a rare quiet moment to look through binoculars. Skylarks were on the move this morning, all seemingly from the east and heading west, 15+ individuals. Other overheads: 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 alba wagtail, 1 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting, 3 Blackbird.
Other birds: a singing Chiffchaff which I heard just once before it probably moved on, 2 Jay,1 Kestrel, 140 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Buzzard and 30+ seemingly local Swallows. Halfway through the morning I received a text from Will who was working near Claughton. His message told of a heavy passage of Meadow Pipits underway, together with a “phenomenal” movement of Swallows. Interesting that the Meadow Pipits I had seen and heard just 7 or 8 miles away probably tallied with Will’s observations, but there was no sign of a sizeable movement of Swallows here on the moss.
On the way home I called to see if my pal the reliable, approachable and easy-going Little Owl was having a sun bathe. He or she was there in the usual spot, just snoozing in the midday sun until the shutter clicked as if to rouse the bird. There and then I decided to christen the owl Tonto even though it could be male or female, and while Tonto won’t be able to help out with my ringing, it’s always around when I need a photo or two.
Tune in soon for more news, views and photos from Another Bird Blog.