Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eat Your Heart Out

Here on the west coast of Lancashire we set our sights a little lower than Spurn Point, where fresh in off the North Sea, 21,000 Redwings and 9,500 Fieldfares were logged on Monday, and then another 2,000 or so of each on Tuesday. It’s all relative of course, and my counts of Lesser Redpoll this week together with 27 caught already would appear to surpass figures for the world famous bird observatory! 

I was on Rawcliffe Moss again this morning where I counted 190 Redwings and 45 Fieldfares between 0730 and 1000, when at the ten o’clock point what little passage there had been just petered out. The Redwing count is made up of 5 or 6 groups of birds, the biggest counted being 80 and 50 individuals. Just a couple of Fieldfare gangs appeared soon after dawn to make up their total. Many of the Redwings appeared to come from the east this morning although it is not always easy to say from which direction as they suddenly and almost literally fall from high in the clouds. Maybe they had crossed The Pennines, that immovable object in the centre of the UK which makes over and above travel more problematical for a bird looking for the bright lights of Lancashire?

The finch passage was very slow this morning, and after a zero catch of Chaffinch their inland passage may well be over, particularly so when for weeks now their numbers have been low in comparison to the previous two autumns here. Lesser Redpolls were less conspicuous too with just 8 logged. 

Birds ringed: 10 Redwing, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit, 1 Tree Sparrow. So apologies, there are more pictures of Lesser Redpoll and Redwing today, plus pictures of those rare catches here, Tree Sparrow and Great Tit. 

Lesser Redpoll - adult female

Great Tit

Tree Sparrow

Most of today’s Redwings were juveniles, birds born this year, aged by the white notch on tertial feathers and their pointed tail feathers. No prizes for spotting a regrowing “adult” type feather in the juvenile tail below. 

Redwing tail - juvenile

Redwing tail - adult

In October it’s exciting to catch a number of Redwings Turdus iliacus, knowing they probably just arrived from Northern Europe, even though the few handled are a tiny, miniscule part of the European breeding population. This population is estimated at 16,000,000 - 21,000,000 breeding pairs, equating to 48,000,000 - 63,000,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 50-74% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 65,000,000-130,000,000 individuals. Maybe I should go out tomorrow morning too and see if I can catch up those Spurn numbers? 

Redwing - Turdus iliacus

Other birds today: 3 Tawny Owl, 2 Jay, 2 Raven, 3 Snipe, 1 Kestrel, 8 Blackbird, 3 Siskin, 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Reed Bunting. 

Kestrel 

7 comments:

Chris said...

Hi Phil,
This is quite funny to see these large numbers especially in the case of Redwing! I thought they would all travel to southern Europe from here, but it appears that, as for the golden plover, we are really getting a resident populations. Iðve seen today over 80 golden plover in a pond downtown, and it turn out they have been there for a while, and redwings are all over the place downtown too. Would be interesting to see if they stay all winter. Got nice picture and I love the tree sparrow ;-)

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Your blog is always so informative and filled with beautiful photos. Thank you for taking the time to do this!

eileeninmd said...

What a title, Phil! Amazing number of Redwings, at least I think so. I enjoy your Redpoll photos. Your Tree Sparrow is pretty, great shots. Happy Birding!

grammie g said...

Hey Phil..What's this eat your heart out stuff...I would die then!
Those are some big numbers you are dealing with here, I think it best that you not try for those numbers with all those 000,000 you don't want to turn into a bird brain calculator!
Enough foolishness..I love the Red polls there pictures are sweet ! I hope I get some this winter!
Nice Redwing shots to, I guess there not on any endangered
list ; }
Your buddy Grace




grammie g said...

Hey Phil..What's this eat your heart out stuff...I would die then!
Those are some big numbers you are dealing with here, I think it best that you not try for those numbers with all those 000,000 you don't want to turn into a bird brain calculator!
Enough foolishness..I love the Red polls there pictures are sweet ! I hope I get some this winter!
Nice Redwing shots to, I guess there not on any endangered
list ; }
Your buddy Grace




Rohrerbot said...

I love your pics and documentation. The little birds are hard to ID and I appreciate you pointing out the feathers etc. Birding is so much fun.

Gary said...

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

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