Following last night’s iffy forecast of more cold, northerly winds Saturday was destined to be one of those days for an early and rapid decision about which might be the most rewarding option, birding or ringing.
There was a slight frost on the car windscreen, the sky clear and bright with no discernible breeze so I decided to head towards Rawcliffe. Maybe I'd manage a spot of ringing if the wind held off long enough. Before I reached the moss the usual pattern ensued, a Barn Owl hunting close to the A585 at Hambleton followed by a pair of Little Owls in their customary spot not far away.
There was quite a frost on the open aspects of the moss, so much so that I donned hat, gloves and scarf before setting nets then afterwards sought the sanctuary of the still warm car and a cup of hot coffee.
Willow Warblers and Whitethroats were in song soon enough, with a good number of Goldfinches coming and going about the niger feeders. There were so many Goldfinches around that it soon became apparent the species would dominate the catch. The wind picked up about 1015 forcing me to pack in with a total of 29 birds - 20 Goldfinch, 4 Whitethroat, 3 Chaffinch, 1 Reed Bunting and 1 Robin. Goldfinches have been noticeably scarce during the continuing cold weather but it looks like many are now finally on the move, the twenty caught made up of 10 new and 10 recaptures from previous occasions here, one from 2010 another from 2011. In all I estimated 70+ Goldfinches either using or passing through the area during my shortened morning.
Of the four Whitethroats, 3 were new birds, one a recapture from 2011 but not caught in 2012, perhaps due to the poor summer and reduced ringing opportunities. How wonderful to see Whitethroats return from their winter in Africa.
At this time of year adult male Chaffinches look extremely bright, spick-and-span and truly immaculate.
After catching more than 60 Reed Buntings here during the winter, the single bird caught today was not one of those but a newcomer to the site.
In the cold conditions birding was very quiet, limited to a handful of Whimbrel on nearby fields, 6 Corn Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer and 1 Kestrel. Several Swallows were seen, most of those back on territory around nearby horse stabling facilities with just 2 birds heading north early doors.
This post is linking up with Anni who would rather-b-birdin, and also Madge who hosts a Weekly Top Shot.