Sunday, November 8, 2009

Red Sky in The Morning, Shepherd's Warning

We should have put our trust in the old saying above rather than place our faith in old Auntie BBC again. It continued raining overnight, until a lot later than expected but the sky seemed fairly bright at 0645 and maybe the rain went elsewhere, over the other side of the Pennines to spoil a Yorkshire man’s day?

So the nets were up in plenty of time for us to have a leisurely coffee before the first net round, as in the darkness a dozen Redwings sighed overhead and a Song Thrush called. A Barn Owl was up, hunting for breakfast, ghosting over the stubble but disappearing in the half light towards a wood on the next farm. In the direction of the nets in the plantation, a couple of Tawny Owls called, and further away another one in the birch wood, but pity, we didn’t actually see or catch any of them.

Just as the first Redwing came out of a bird bag for ringing, we both felt the first spot of rain but weren’t too concerned as the forecast was for a good, dry day, meanwhile out to the east the orange sun split open the grey lines of cloud. We caught a perfectly brown Blackbird with a new tail, watched a handful of passing Redwing and looked forward to the waves of thrushes to follow, a bit of counting and lots of ringing.

But then as we watched the clouds close in and felt the rain change to a steady drizzle we realised the relevant saying this morning might be “Sun in the East, Rain in the West”, with the BBC getting the overall picture for the day probably correct, but as usual the timing about eight hours out.

We caught another Redwing then a troublesome Wren but the rain was beginning to soak the net - not good.

Several parties of Pink-footed Goose were arriving from the North West, and a couple of parties of Whooper Swans flew noisily over.

Otherwise there was very little migration or movement, the amount of overnight cloud and rain put paid to that. In the short time we were there we saw not much, just odd Chaffinches, a party of local Goldfinch, the stubble Skylarks and a couple of Reed Buntings, together with the welcome sounds of Grey Partridge alongside the watery ditch.

We were taking the nets down when a few Fieldfares flew out from cover behind us to head off for brighter parts. That was just what we needed to do, as by now we were both damp and disappointed. Oh well, you can’t win them all and you certainly can’t beat the elements.

“Hang your fat balls from a tree” advised Will, “you’ll have loads of birds crawling all over them within minutes”. A little taken aback I promised I would try the suggestion as soon as I got back home.

They work like magic. Within 15 minutes the Starlings had pretty much destroyed them with the leftovers attracting other interested parties. Pictures; Starling, Chaffinch, Coal Tit.

More balls please Will.

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