Autumn and winter time make for many productive birding and ringing days at inland Rawcliffe Moss, whereas March, April and May can be very hit or miss because spring migrants tend to arrive at more coastal locations.
Today must have been one of those latter type days when after a clear, quite frosty and very early start of 0530, Will and I could muster only 6 birds in a good three hours. Birds caught 3 Goldfinch, Willow Warbler, Dunnock and Wren.
After blank days waiting for Lesser Redpolls there were finally some on the move this morning but none of the 8/10 birds seen or heard found our nets. We did open the Willow Warbler account with a single male caught and at least two others seen/heard but otherwise we saw no other warbler species.
With clear and sunny skies it was a quiet morning of birding too, the migration highlights being 2 Whimbrel, 4+ Siskin over, 2 Alba wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit, 1 Golden Plover and 6/8 Swallows over. A number of flighty Woodpigeons, 100+, are still in the area, probably part of the winter contingent and yet to depart as opposed to residents birds waiting to pair up.
Local residents accounted for the other species as 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 2 Buzzard, 1 Little Owl, 1 Corn Bunting in jangling song and 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker beating out a wooden tune.
On the way home I snapped a common/European Starling in song on a hedgerow top. Apart from the fact the bird was singing, it’s a male due the blue base to the yellow bill, whereas and perhaps appropriately enough, females have a pink base. I use the word “song” advisedly as everyone knows a Starling’s refrain contains a wide range of chuckles, whistles, knocking and grating sounds along with good imitations of the songs of other birds. A Starling is a member of the oriole family of birds, many of which are fabulous songsters.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, European Starlings were quite rare. After that they underwent an increase in numbers leading to it becoming one of Britain's most widespread and common birds. Recently the Starling has suffered a dramatic reversal of fortune; since the 1980s their abundance has decreased severely, giving great cause for conservation concern. The greatest declines of a shocking 92% have occurred in woodland, but this may represent sub-optimal habitat for the European starling. On farmland declines of 66% have occurred. Starlings can be considered a pest species because of the mess they make at roosts, but they are a visually attractive species and one we might miss were they to be no longer around.
Sunday’s forecast is for sun with a breezy southerly. Looks like a spot of birding for Another Bird Blog, so log in soon to find out what you missed.