Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thrushes Prevail

I stepped out of my back door at 6am to another clear, cold and star filled morning with my warm breath condensing in the close to zero air. I jumped into the Suzuki, switched the heater to the “toast” setting, stuffed a pair of gloves into a warm air vent, flicked on the heated seat so as to warm my essential bits, then set off for Rawcliffe Moss.

It was still black when I met Will at 0630 but we set to in getting the nets up in the frost before the thrushes dropped in. In fact we were early enough to catch a few roosting Redwings in the first net as we toured the plantation erecting the remainder.

I’d said to Will that the first migrant Redwings arrived at 0740 on Saturday, exactly as they did today, on the dot, when a party of about 30 birds came from the south east and dived into the plantation. They brought with them a few Fieldfares. That was the opening shot of today’s thrush movement which from 0740 until about 1030am consisted of approximately 300 Redwing, 120 Fieldfare, 9 Song Thrush and 5 Blackbirds. About 50% of the thrushes arrived from the south-east this morning, travelling with the prevailing wing, whilst most others came from the north and north-west.

Our catch this morning was made up of 35 birds of 11 species, 33 new and 2 recaptures. 14 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 3 Fieldfare, 3 Goldfinch, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Great Tit, 1 Robin, 1 Yellowhammer and 4 Reed Bunting were new birds, while a Blackbird and a Coal Tit were ringed on site on previous occasions.

Fieldfare - juvenile male

Fieldfare - juvenile male

Redwing - juvenile

Song Thrush

Yellowhammer - adult male

We are keeping an eye on the biometrics and adult/juvenile ratio of the Redwings caught so far this autumn and at the moment they split very nearly 50/50 adult/juvenile with consistent weights that vary between 54 and 64 grams. One adult today had a wing length of 125mm which could place it into the Icelandic origin bracket.

Other birds on the move this morning, c50/60 Chaffinch, 4+ Brambling, 12+ Siskin which included a party of eight, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Stock Dove rapidly heading south, 1 Grey Wagtail, and 8+ alba Wagtails. Twice we noted groups of Jackdaws flying dead south both fast and low over the plantation and we totalled them to c80 birds. This was in total contrast to the hundreds of Jackdaws that at dawn noisily left the regular roost situated in a large wood on the next door farm and dispersed west to their daytime locations.

Waders this morning consisted of the usual several Snipe plus a lone Golden Plover fly over. Raptors noted this morning - a Sparrowhawk hunting through the plantation at dawn, a lone Kestrel, plus a dashing Merlin as we prepared to leave at 11am. But, where have all the Buzzards gone?

Sparrowhawk

At dawn this morning the sky was awesomely red. I have not changed the photograph in any way except for sharpening. But later in the day the clouds rolled in to a BBC promise of rain on the way - “Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning”, or should that be “ringer’s warning”?

Ringer’s Warning?

14 comments:

Bob Bushell said...

I love the Thrushes, but, what a dream, you caught a Yellowhammer, this is something I've never seen.

NatureFootstep said...

I havn´t seen any redwing yet. But I hope they will come soon. But there are a lot of yellowhammers. :)

grammie g said...

Hi Phil...see the bird ringing is going well, your doing a great job there !!
Fire red sunrise yup!! Something to watch out for!!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

WOW, this should be called "Red Sky Morning" what an image, stunning sky, really a beauty~

Stu said...

Dawns are amazing, my photos never seem to do it justice though............

When I was birding in Preston I don't recall seeing Redwings/Fieldfares so early in the season, I'm sure they didn't arrive until mid November........

Kelly said...

...the Fieldfare has such a handsome face...and I always love the looks of a Yellowhammer. Your Sparrowhawk reminds me of our kestrel...

Peter Fearon said...

We're starting to see some small flocks of Redwing with a few Fieldfare too. Do you use calls to pull them in early on? I am going to try that over the next few weeks and see if I have success with that!

Phil said...

Thanks everyone for your positive comments.

Stu:They are just arriving now but they will continue into November, Fieldfares often a bit later than Redwing.

Peter: Yes, song pre and at dawn.

Paco Sales said...

Espectaculares imagens y primeros planos, la última un cielo impresionante, precioso, un excelente trabajo, un saludo amigo Phil

mick said...

The birds are beautiful - but your description of the cold dark morning start is a bit intimidating :-) I like my birding trips to be nice and warm!!

Chris said...

I'd love to get them in my hands to ring them... Especially the yellowhammer. I've seen it very often in France but not that close!

Birdringal-andalus said...

Phil Dear Friend, Greetings: Thanks for writing in my blog about loa Song Thrush, this year we found the key with them and hope to visit the redwing. hopefully get lucky with them too.
As always a pleasure to read this Bible which is his blog and enjoy these beautiful images.
Grateful I am sending you a big hug from this guy Spanish.
Sincerely, Fernando Gavilan.

Andy Wilson said...

Stopped by for a visit. Excellent post.

Chris said...

Hi Phil,
To answer your questions, well there are quite a good numbers of goldcrest in Iceland. When I arrive in 2002, only a small population was around and started to establish itself around the Borganes area, north of Iceland. At this period, you had to travel to see them there.
Three years ago, we started to see many of them around Reykjavik, and nowadays, they are quite numerous. When I took this picture, they were 10 of them around the same tree. So yes, they are increasing in numbers, just as all the other warblers that are really doing fine, redpoll, common wren (well winter wren in the case of Iceland), blackbird and so on... Even crossbill have established a population in Iceland in the last two years! The world is changing ;-)

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