Sunday, August 8, 2010

Willies and Whites

Will and I both clocked dawn “on the way” birds this morning on our respective journeys to Rawcliffe but he beat me easily today with a Barn Owl sitting on a roadside fence at St Michael’s village, to which my pathetic riposte was a Kestrel sitting above the road at the start of the farm track. He does it every week, last week Grey Partridge, and now this.


Barn Owl

Afterwards it was a quiet, slow ringing session on the moss and it was just as well that for contingency purposes we took a couple of garden chairs to sit on between net rounds. Naturally we made sure the chairs sat on the topmost part of the road so we could monitor any overhead or close by bird traffic.

We caught 15 birds of 3 species, which isn’t a terrific result given the nets we set and the time spent, but thankfully our ringing isn’t a competition or a quest for ticks in a book.

We perhaps expected Willow Warblers and weren’t disappointed with 7 caught, 5 new and 2 recaptures, both adults still in the throes of completing their full moult before they can head south. We caught 6 Whitethroats, 4 new and 2 recaptures. Again the recaptured Whitethroats were adults already partially through their moult. We really must not complain as those warblers represented our 88th new Whitethroat and our 67th new Willow Warbler for the site in 2010.

A characteristic of the warblers we have caught this year has been the lack of visible fault bars on the tails of young birds. In a normally wet spring and early summer this is such a noticeable feature that when we caught a young Whitethroat with obvious fault bars near the bottom of the tail, we both remarked on how few similar we had seen in the many dozens of post breeding young warblers handled this year. The better tail feather condition must be related to the fine weather in May and June, which allowed the adults to feed the young more consistently plus find the necessary nutritional food more frequently.

The two other birds caught were a lone Treecreeper plus a juvenile Dunnock.

Adult Whitethroat in wing moult

Whitethroat – juvenile with tail fault bars

Willow Warbler


Birding wise we had a greater variety than found the nets, with 2 Chiffchaff, a party of 9 Tree Sparrow, a single Sedge Warbler now that they have mostly left, several Linnet, plus 15 Goldfinch. Overhead or close by birds came as groups of 5 Snipe and 3 Golden Plover, 50+ Swallows, 15 House Martin, 11 Stock Dove, 2 Jay, 5 Greylag and the preordained 3 or 4 Buzzards, the hungry young still calling from the nearest woods.

I am loathe to mention the distant calling Quail because this as a lone record may appear on another web site as the sole record of avifauna on Rawcliffe Moss today, plucked from Will’s and my considerable endeavours above and presented not for the first time as the only bird seen in this several square miles of bird rich habitat, listed as a trophy bird to target, to the exclusion of all other less important species. But such a singular record of a call only bird, out of context, out of time, devoid of reason or explanation is meaningless and pointless.



Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

I'd be happy to get within earshot of your quail Phil, no joy the other evening but singing Yellowhammer was nice.
Your harrier didn't come down the coast yesterday, we saw the ship but the bird must have tracked inland.



Mary Howell Cromer said...

All such sweet selections, nice outing, nice entry~

Unknown said...

Very interesting information and wonderful bird shots as usual.

Ari said...

Wealth of information and wonderful images, as usual.

Rose Ragai said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the info. It's remind me of my bird's survey back in 2006-2007. Add you in my blog list. Drop by sometime.


Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

The moult and fault bars of the Whitethroat are very interesting. I've seen many birds with fault bars on their tail feathers but never knew what actually caused them that.

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