Friday, April 23, 2010

A Little Is A Lot

It was an early start, but nothing new there. I met Will on the moss at 6am where we put up our standard mist net quota for the site of 320ft of net. Pretty hard work for a reward which isn’t necessarily of huge quantity in a normal Fylde spring when birds head straight for previous breeding haunts without stops in the middle of nowhere. This is how an unkind, unknowing soul might well describe Rawcliffe Moss, but any coastal situation is usually more productive in terms of both variety and numbers of migrants in both spring and autumn than the moss, some 7 or 8 miles inland.

But we enjoy the peace and quiet of the moss land, and the often lack of numbers allows us in between net visits to indulge in plenty of sky and land watching for local birds and at the right times of year, visible migrants. The ability to enjoy both is the joy of being both a ringer and a birder, and it is so sad that a few people think that a person must be exclusively one or the other to qualify as legitimate. Those are our reasons for actually enjoying this morning, despite the fact that for our herculean efforts we caught, some might say, a paltry 8 birds of 2 new and 6 retraps.

The two new birds were a Tree Pipit and a Blackbird, as diverse a pair as anyone might expect out on the moss. I took the pipit from the net and pondered, “When was the last Tree Pipit I handled?” suggesting to Will it was probably 15 years ago. I got back home and checked on IPMR - May 1996 at Lane Ends, Pilling. That is how scarce Tree Pipits are locally, and apart from overflying, calling birds in Spring and Autumn, it is not a species seen on the deck very often.

Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit

Our retrapped Whitethroat we first ringed here in 2007 as an adult and it has
returned in 2008, 2009 and now in 2010.

Adult Male Whitethroat

Similarly, a retrapped Willow Warbler was first ringed as a fresh juvenile and probably born on site in 2009.

Willow Warbler

The other retraps were 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Reed Bunting and a Goldfinch from 2008.

Local birds evident today were still small groups of Goldfinch and Linnet with singing Skylark and Corn Bunting plus resident Tree Sparrows ensconced in boxes.

Tree Sparrow

Corn Bunting

Visible migration was extremely interesting this morning in the form of a steady but slight passage of about 20 Swallows and a similarly thin movement of approximately 30 Meadow Pipits. The mid week migration of Wheatears noticed at many locations continued on the moss this morning with at least 16 bright “Greenland” types noticeable on the black, peaty fields. Two distant but obvious White Wagtails also stood out against the intense dark soil. There was a little movement of Redpoll again with a minimum count of 12 birds passing north throughput the morning. Waders on the move were mainly Whimbrel with at least 7 heading west and other unseen ones calling more distantly.

Raptor sightings were of the Kestrel and Buzzard variety, especially the Buzzard that has a favoured perch with a panoramic view of the moss and which overlooks the legions of tiny bunnies now evident in the fields. Raptor surprise this morning was a Merlin that put in a brief appearance over the plantation before heading out west, but the almost unseen bird of the morning was a Ring Ouzel in the plantation, loudly “tac-taccing” at our approach to the nets before flying off north and giving brief views to Will.


I can't hope to ever get a photograph of a Ring Ouzel so here is an absolute corker of a portrait by Andreas Trepte .

Ring Ouzel

What a cracking morning, more please.


Pete Woodruff said...

Whitethroat ringed 2007 and returned 2008/09/10....truly amazing that these creatures not only migrant thousands of miles in a lifetime but do it via the same route year in year out and can 'land on a sixpence' as the old saying goes. Thanks for the info Phil, and you're 'what a cracking morning, more please' says it all....Great Stuff!

Unravel said...

The Whitethroat looks great! Reminds me of its smaller relative, the Lesser Whitethroat, which I've seen several times before.

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