Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where’s My Better Half?

The usual early start today, but what a beautiful sunrise. It was a fine morning to be up and about.

Misty Sunrise

Will and I asked the leading question not of ourselves but of the 3 Whitethroats and 4 Willow Warblers we caught this morning when they all turned out to be males. This year we have yet to catch a female Willow Warbler or Whitethroat in our ringing plot on Rawcliffe Moss. Whitethroats do arrive later than Willow Warblers, so we are not too concerned there, but it looks as though female Willow Warblers haven’t arrived yet to claim a summer partner. A four hour ringing session should have shown up any females present.

There was an awful lot of song from the plantation, mainly Common Whitethroats who also indulged in some chasing around of potential territories. We counted at least 10 singing males near us with others further down the moss. It was a similar tale with the Willow Warblers, when the four we caught were retraps from not only previous years but had also previous ringing sessions this year. Other birds netted today were 2 Lesser Redpoll and a Blackbird, so the redpoll migration continued but our overall count of this species was of 8 or 10 only chattering high overhead and flying north.

Willow Warbler


Lesser Redpoll

The earlier morning started on a bird high when I drove up the moss track to see a Barn Owl sitting in a glassless window frame of a half completed house extension. What a photo opportunity, just begging for a suitable caption, but as I slowed to look closer and pick up the ever ready camera, the owl turned its back on me and dropped down back into the half completed shell of the room. But the one below may be the same bird from weeks ago in the same vicinity.

Barn Owl

Just as we completed putting up mist nets, we had both picked up on a Common Cuckoo calling from up near the conifers. It called a couple of times before going quiet and we guessed it headed quickly north. Now there is a misnomer, “Common Cuckoo”, maybe we should now rename the species “Seriously Threatened Cuckoo”?

The Conifers


Just to the left of the conifers a party of Greenland Wheatears again stood out as dots of colour on the black peat canvas of the recently drilled field, with a Kestrel just sat there for a while after we supposed a failed attempt at a ground morsel; as we walked around the edge of the field it took off back to higher elevations but the Wheatears continued patrolling the soil way out of our reach today.

Other birds seen today included the resident Buzzard in the same old tree, Corn Buntings, Linnets, Reed Buntings and Goldfinches, but we both remarked separately on the apparent lack of Skylark song. Is it the effect of the cold winter and another species to worry over in the coming weeks?

I caught a Dunnock in the garden today. Male and female Dunnocks are difficult to tell apart, except in the breeding season. So I looked carefully at this bird in the parts that matter and I could tell it had clearly found a better half (or maybe more than one, as Dunnocks do), unlike the lonesome warblers on the moss singing for sight of a mate.

Adult Male Dunnock


eileeninmd said...

Great post and I love the barn owl. Wonderful photos of all the birds.

Johnny Nutcase said...

no females? Hmm? Love the barn owl flight shot - cool! I'm looking forward to doing some mist-netting in the sorta near future :)

Unravel said...

Wow Love the first photo!
Very beautiful scenery, especially with that little lamb added!

sebi_2569 said...

beautiful photo, bravo

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