Saturday, September 18, 2010

It’s A Hard Life

Will and I met at Our Rawcliffe for our first ringing session since September 8th. The intervening period had seen poor weather synopses with periods of rain and wind, the twin enemies that frustrated our eagerness to continue the good results we obtained through the summer and early autumn. It was a hesitant start at 0630 under threatening rain clouds, but both the weather and our mood improved enough to say that by 1100 when we packed up, we had enjoyed a brilliant morning full of birds.

In total we caught 51 birds of 8 species, 48 new birds, 2 recaptures and 1 bird previously ringed elsewhere, a “control” in ringer’s terminology.

New birds: 21 Chaffinch, 18 Meadow Pipit, 4 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Robin, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Dunnock. We recaptured a Chiffchaff and a Dunnock from previous visits, and the control bird was a Long-tailed Tit; Ring number 6O9704 anyone?

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Lesser Whitethroat



Capturing a number of Meadow Pipits for the first time since last autumn allowed us to “get our eye in” again with separating adult and juvenile autumn Meadow Pipits. In general adults have all tertials, greater coverts and median coverts of the same age with the pattern of the greater and median coverts having a rather evenly broad olive-toned buff tip with only a slight “tooth” and well defined and indented buff margin to the greater coverts. In contrast, first year birds have a pronounced “tooth” on the median coverts and rather pale buff tips to these, and the outer webs of the greater coverts are edged paler and more whitish. So in general the wing of an adult appears darker and more evenly olive toned whereas a juvenile wing looks more variable by virtue of most of its buff and pale tipped coverts or the contrast between its juvenile coverts and any newer, replaced “adult” type coverts. What we also have to bear in mind when ageing Meadow Pipits is that early broods may have been out of the nest from mid or late May, four months ago, whereas birds from later in the season may have plumage characteristics dating from several weeks ago only.

Meadow Pipit - Adult

Meadow Pipit - Juvenile

After a series of mornings in August and early September whereby we reported little or no visible migration, in contrast the difference today was quite striking, perhaps helped by the very light south easterly wind that blew from 0630 until about 10am when it swung round to the predicted north westerly direction. There were noticeable, mainly south or south westerly movements of 200+ Meadow Pipit, 250 Swallow, 20 House Martin and 50+ Skylarks which arrived from a true north or even north easterly direction

Other birds seen this morning included 190 Pink-footed Goose over in various directions, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, several Goldfinch, 1 Jay and 1 Grey Wagtail. As on the last few occasions, the movement of Chaffinch was not especially marked or obvious, but as we caught 21 we can only assume this was small percentage of those moving through the site for the four hours we remained there.

We were so busy with ringing, listening and watching that we barely had time to sit down, have a coffee or eat our second breakfasts whilst our luxurious chairs remained mostly redundant this morning. It’s a hard life being a birder.



cat said...

Such sweet little birds.

Trish ~ ♥ ~ said...

beautiful shots, Although I always have my eyes open for new sightings, I have not seen these birds in my area. I will have to continue to look around.

jabblog said...

Most informative and interesting post. The only ringed bird we've seen at our feeders was a stray racing pigeon that stayed for around a week, feeding alongside our usual visitors. It was quite unfazed by the wood pigeons that tried to bully it away.

chubskulit said...

Oh how lovely to be able to hold that pretty birdie.

Turtle and Praying Mantis

Pete Marsh said...

Not a Heysham/Middleton Lotti, Phil



Kcalpesh said...

Wow, awesome captures and very informative post!!

Pixellicious Photos

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Before I begin I must say, those certainly are luxurious chairs, since I have some green ones quite like them;) Your day sounds quite interesting and I always enjoy learning, though do not always retain as much as I should like. I like how you explain and show the difference in the pattern and colouration of the adults vs the juvie. The Juvie feathers also look so much more fresh and tender, not used long. Fun stuff, have a grand day tomorrow~

eileeninmd said...

Beautiful birds! Your post and photos are wonderful.

Dave said...

You may have been busy but I think it must be rewarding. The detail in the pictures are great and thanks for the info too. Lots to think about.

Eye of a Camera Blog

Lana Gramlich said...

(Had a problem posting my comment, so this might be a double post.)

*LOL @ "luxurious chairs."* Lovely photos, and so informative!

mick said...

You describe a really beautiful morning which all birders would love to join! The details about the adult and juvenile plumage are especially interesting. re the chairs - I have two just like them - and I'm on the opposite side of the world - definitely it's a global economy!

Anna said...

May be its hard :), but I am sure it is fun. Thanks for sharing your outline of the birding, wow I wished I was able to track that many, may be one day lol. These are very nice photos, I really enjoy looking at the Lesser Whitethroat, such an elegant nice little bird. Anna :)

Halcyon said...

You saw some nice ones this time! Thanks for sharing these photos.

Amy said...

Sounds like a great day. A busy ringing station is much better than a slow one! Love the caption on the last pic. :)

Larry said...

You won't get any sympathy from this birder Phil. A hard life indeed!

Gorgeous shots all, but the Meadow Pipit is especially attractive to me. I really like that feather pattern.

Thanks for all the interesting information on aging the birds too.

Those chairs do look forlorn.

NatureFootstep said...

this is very interesting. I wish I could work with birds like that.

Welcome to visit my swedish birdblog even if it is not as advanced as yours.

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