Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Cold Catch

Following yesterday’s rain and wind the skies cleared overnight and left a heavy frost that greeted Will and I at Rawcliffe Moss this morning for the 0645 start. As normal we wanted nets up in the dark to catch any roosting thrushes and the hoped for dawn arrivals. As we donned warm coats, thick socks and wellies, the first noises weren’t from the usual Tawny Owl but a dog fox barking loudly from a distance away. It was only as we walked through the plantation to the net rides that we heard the Tawny, hooting as it flew from its chosen tree at our incursion.

After putting up four nets we went back to the first one to find a Redwing, first bird of the day. We barely had time to process the Redwing and down a coffee before parties of Fieldfares arrived from the north; most of them were large groups numbering anything from 40 or more birds to flocks of 200+. Between 0730 and 0830 we counted 750+ Fieldfares, but with much smaller numbers of Redwings. After the initial movement both species slowed down a little then trickled through, but in total we think 1050+ Fieldfares and 100+ Redwings moved through the site between 0730 and midday when we left.



If only we had caught the thrushes in similar numbers to those seen, but the two species are difficult to trap. However we did have a very successful and interesting session in the ringing, migration monitoring and general birding. We caught 39 birds of 10 species, 38 new and 1 recaptured Great Tit. New birds: 13 Reed Bunting, 4 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Goldfinch, 7 Chaffinch, 3 Blue Tit, 1 Great Tit, 1 Dunnock and 1 male Blackcap. The Reed Buntings split 10/3 in favour of juveniles.

Blackcap - juvenile male



In trying to monitor the visible migration we suffered from the eternal problem of “vis miggers” on clear mornings with good visibility – high flying birds that can be both audible and often detectable, but many others up there in the blue being less accommodating in calling at the right moment, or remaining invisible. Also it was inevitable we missed birds that we couldn’t see or hear as we toured through the planation concentrating on our net rounds. But we did count the following birds, generally north to south: 30+ Reed Bunting, 12 Meadow Pipit, 8 Siskin, 1 Redpoll sp, 50+ Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 2 Yellowhammer, 30+ Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch.

An unusual bird on site this morning was a Bullfinch, in this case a brightly coloured male that both showed and called briefly near our nets before doing a disappearing act. The Bullfinch is a scarce bird in the Fylde area. It's not my photograph I’m afraid, but certainly a good one taken at Pennington Flash.

Bullfinch - M. Jobling

Mixed “Others” this morning were: 50+ Skylark, 1 Whooper Swan flying west, 5+ Snipe, 2 Kestrel, 3 Buzzard and thousands of Pink-footed Goose landing on nearby Pilling Moss.

On the way off the farm I visited the Little Owl again, got a slightly better picture than yesterday, and then a hundred yards away I saw a second bird of a separate but known pairing.

Little Owl

There can’t be anyone that doesn’t know about a potentially plastic Red-breasted Goose amongst the thousands of proper Pink-footed Geese today at Pilling. Here’s a picture to whet the appetite or not depending upon your point of view.

Red-breasted Goose

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