Saturday, September 25, 2010

Busy, Busy

Will and I both watched the BBC “Rough Guide to What The Weather May Hold” and their forecast of 15-17mph northerlies. We looked at the position of the isobars on the chart and decided we were clearly in with a chance of some more ringing this morning on Rawcliffe Moss. As it turned out it was a completely clear morning with zero wind and nil cloud but the overnight lack of cloud led to the first ground frost of the autumn as we erected nets with fingers grasping frosty ropes and hands sliding through iced up bamboo poles.

Another busy morning saw us catch 73 birds, 72 new and 1 recapture of a Great Tit. The Chaffinch totals were similarly interesting to those of recent weeks with 38 individuals, 1 adult - a male, plus 11 juvenile males and 26 juvenile females. Once again the visible migration here was not highly conspicuous as many bird arrived in the north of plantation before finding our nets in the south section, while many more passed extremely high overhead with only their contact calls giving away their movements. Our nearest feasible estimate was approximately 250/300 birds. There has been a heavy visible migration on the moss in recent weeks that has not necessarily been reflected in coastal migration but of course Rawcliffe Moss is closer to the Pennines migration route which probably explains the phenomenon.

I saw a post on a vis mig website recently which claimed that of over 200 migrating Chaffinch, “only male Chaffinches were seen”, which of course is total nonsense unless the birds were at head height and each one examined through binoculars. At this time of year some young male Chaffinches are very dull and lack the colouration of an adult male, so even in the hand deserve a more than cursory glance to distinguish them from females, never mind separating overhead flyers into males and females! Our findings from recent weeks show that migrating Chaffinch at the moment consist of roughly 80% females, and there is absolutely no basis to suggest that it might be completely different elsewhere on the same day.

Other birds caught this morning: 21 Meadow Pipits, 4 Chiffchaff, 5 Dunnock, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Wren and 1 Skylark.

Lesser Redpoll

The passage of Meadow Pipits was more marked today, with an estimated 350 birds arriving from the north or North West with most of them leaving quite quickly in a south easterly direction. As usual we lost a few pipits through some doing their Houdini act of climbing up and out of the pocket by using their immensely long rear claw as a lever; if only they wouldn’t rub it in by calling in triumph as they fly off. Also an escapee from the nets, a male Sparrowhawk that was barely caught so flew off before Will could reach it. It was possibly the same bird we saw later on when 2 Sparrowhawks appeared together before circling briefly over the plantation.

Meadow Pipit -Hind Claw

Another interesting feature of this morning was the appearance of 5 new Dunnocks plus a further small influx of fruity toned Chiffchaffs, 4 of which we caught. There was also a marked movement of other finches, at least 12 Siskin, 8 Lesser Redpoll and even a Greenfinch or two. The movement of Skylarks was very marked with more than 90 seen arriving from the east and heading west during the course of the morning, of which we caught a single bird with a couple more near misses. Catching a Skylark is such a rare occasion that “Svensonn” comes out, on this occasion to remind us that there is not a lot to be done with Skylarks. Both adults and juveniles have a complete moult and therefore will look much the same at this time of year, however our bird appeared to have some retained juvenile tertial feathers and we provisionally aged it as juvenile.

Skylark

”Svensson” - Ageing and Sexing Skylark

Skylark

Other birding this morning: 2 Tawny Owl, 1 Jay, 14 Snipe, 2 Mistle Thrush, 5 Reed Bunting, 20+ Swallow – now almost absent, and 450 Pink-footed Goose.

Having seen our less than pristine sort-of-white chairs on Another Bird Blog recently a regular reader and a friend of Will and Sue kindly donated two even more comfortable chairs for our enjoyment. But once again we were simply too busy to take full advantage so the chairs remained unoccupied most of the morning. So thank you kind reader but if the autumn migration continues to be so intense we may not sit down for a month or two.

New Chairs In The Frost

8 comments:

chubskulit said...

Gorgeous captures!

Jaguar and a Running Mate

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Those Skylark images are so right at the top of the mark, just gorgeous. Love the top one the best, showing it's flair~

Trish ~ ♥ ~ said...

nice work, great photos

Unravel said...

Skylark looks really interesting in hand. Its juvenile tertial feathers look so strange. Actually, juvenile skylark looks strange, to me at least. I've only seen a juvenile skylark once and it looked so different from the adult.

gwendolen said...

Very informative post. Hope you have a good ringing season :-)

Lana Gramlich said...

Very nice shots. That hind claw is something else!

mick said...

Very interesting. However, I would not like having to start in a frost the way you describe it! Hope it didn't last too long.

Kelly said...

...lots of info and very interesting. The Skylark is a bird I would love to see some day...beautiful profile shot and love the tail feathers.

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