Saturday, March 30, 2013

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Goldcrest

A quick look at Fluke Hall this morning revealed not a lot happening on the migration scene again. A Chiffchaff in the same stretch of hedgerow as on Wednesday, a dozen or so Pied Wagtails and 5 Meadow Pipits at the midden, one of the resident Mistle Thrushes, and then close-by a Sparrowhawk dashing along the ditches.  So the rest of this post is devoted to Thursday morning's ringing and birding Out Rawcliffe way.
        
The early 6am start meant I got to watch the local Barn Owl pair hunting before the fields became busy with the noise and activity of Spring tractors; ringers are often up and about before farmers but don’t have the staying power to work the fields as quickly or effectively as two Barn Owls or a John Deere. 

The nagging and bitterly cold easterly wind finally relented for just a few hours, enough to have a crack at the feeding station. The owls had my attention for a good thirty minutes, saving me from the cold until a few birds appeared in the nets to keep icy hands busy, but then as early as 0930 the wind re-energised itself and forced an end to my heroics. 

Fifteen birds caught - 11 new and 4 recaptures. New birds; 3 Brambling, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch and in the only sign of Spring arrivals, a single Goldcrest. The recaptures were 3 Brambling from recent weeks and 1 Chaffinch. The female Chaffinch was first ringed here in 2007 as a juvenile, recaptured in 2009 but no other captures until today, with the bird now a respectable age for a Chaffinch. While Chaffinches can live to 10 or 12 years of age their average lifespan is much shorter with only a very few fledglings surviving their first winter. 

Chaffinch

The migratory Goldcrest is the smallest British bird, almost always weighing in somewhere between 5 and 5.5 grams, with this morning’s example proving something of a heavyweight at 6.3 grams but still less than a ten-pence coin which tips the scales at 6.5. 

Goldcrest 

 Ten Pence coin

From recent visits to the moss I reckoned the regular Bramblings numbered 10 or 12, always around the seed drop zone, scattering far and wide into the trees as soon as look at them, so catching six today confirms the suspected number as a likely guess. 

Brambling

Brambling

Still the Reed Buntings surprise with a daily and continual turnover of new birds and three more second calendar year males today. 

Reed Bunting

Maybe the other sign of Spring was 14 Fieldfare heading noisily north, or perhaps the flock of Golden Plover, 90+ strong, black faces and black bellies, some in fluty song, even though they stayed put on the stubble field with more than 100 Curlew. A few of the Curlews bubbled up too, but just like the goldies didn’t go anywhere except for a fly around the field. 

“Others” noted. 3 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 2 Jay, 8 Corn Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer, 1 Pied Wagtail, 20+Tree Sparrow. 

Early last week the Tree Sparrows were busy in and out of the boxes carrying feathers and chirruping away, but their homebuilding seems to have come to a stop for now. Maybe things will warm up soon? 

Tree Sparrow

Look in to Another Bird Blog soon and find out if Spring ever springs. In the meantime check Anni who would rather be birding or  Madge's Weekly Top Shot.


15 comments:

Isidro Ortiz said...

Bonita composicion del Gorrion molinero.Un abrazo

eileeninmd said...

I would be thrilled to watch the Barn owls hunt. Lucky you! Your Goldcrest is a cutie and remind me of our Golden-crowned Kinglet. Loved the birds and the photos, especially the closeups of the Brambling. Have a great weekend and Happy Easter!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...


The goldcrest is so tiny and adorable.

You said that the returning chaffinch was a respectable age for one...made me wonder how you guys decide that a ringed bird has died? How do you know that it just didn't fly somewhere else and not ever get re-banded? (I hope you are one of the kind of experts who believe there are no stupid questions.)

El rincón de Ceditas said...

Que bellas aves encuentro siempre en tu blog.
Un abrazo

Carole M. said...

regardless of the cold you always seem to find a bevvy of beauty out wherever you venture; great shots!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Another busy, productive day of birding! That goldcrest is so sweet and so small. Coming here is always a treat. :)

Wally Jones said...

I agree with Eileen. Any morning which starts with watching owls hunt is a good one!

Looks like Spring is trying to get started, albeit too slowly.

Terrific image of the 10 pence coin! Graphic evidence there IS money involved in this birding thing!

Hope you are having a Happy Easter weekend!

Take care - Wally

Snap said...

love the little Goldcrest and I'll join Eileen and Wally -- lucky you to see the Barn owls hung! Happy Critter Day!

TexWisGirl said...

your little goldcrest is so much like our golden-crowned kinglet.

oops! i see eileen just said that! :)

Anni said...

That goldcrest is one of the cutest birds I've seen. Thanks once again, to your sharing. Oh yes, I think an owl would grab my attention too...but you're lucky to have it stay around so long, if it were me, and I was lucky enough to spot one, it would fly off before I could even focus my EYES. Maybe I stink.

Excellent post.

Thanks for linking up at the Bird D'Pot this weekend.

Cheryl said...

Spring is finally beginning to spring here so I hope you get lucky too!

These little birds are such a delight. Whenever I visit you, I want to reach through the screen and stroke their feathers.

Pia said...

Your bird photos are perfect as always. I would love to have an owl around or to have this little cuties so close to me.
Your header is breathtaking Phil!

LisaS said...

Lovely bird shots!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Fabulous photos of the birds.

DeniseinVA said...

Thanks for the interesting read and also the wonderful photos.

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