Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nimble Fingers

I drove through Out Rawcliffe as dawn broke, heading for our farmland site and a 9 a.m. start to the ringing session with Will, our first so far during this winter. On the way there alongside the River Wyre I noted single Kestrel and Buzzard sat on roadside telephone poles and also a couple of parties of Fieldfares in the hawthorns at Rawcliffe Hall, the tall bushes there being a guaranteed haunt of this species.

It was a glove and hat morning for sure as we worked fast to put nets up in thick frost and minus 5 degrees temperatures. We caught steadily for the next three hours, mainly Chaffinch and Tree Sparrow, our target species for this site.

We processed 43 birds, 34 new ones together with 9 recaptures from last winter. New birds: 21 Chaffinch, 3 Tree Sparrow, 4 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 2 Dunnock, and singles of Blackbird and Jay. Recaptures: 2 Chaffinch, 1 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit, 1 Blue Tit and 4 Robin. After the hard winter of 2009/2010 and the very severe November and December of this latest winter we were somewhat surprised that the 4 Robins we caught today had all survived through to adulthood. Also noticeable today were several largish adult male Chaffinch, with 4 birds coming in at 90mm and above wing length. In all this morning we estimated about 80 Chaffinch in the area with at least one Brambling amongst them.

Tree Sparrow



The Dunnock blow was made easier to age by the fact it was replacing one set of outer tail feathers - pointed, worn juvenile versus more rounded, fresher adult.



Catching a Jay is fun, mainly for the strong billed Jay itself by nipping unwary and already cold fingers. Our technique is to leave the bird in the bag while fitting the ring and weighing, and only afterwards take the bird out for closer inspection and ageing/sexing




Other birds seen this morning: an additional Kestrel, Grey Heron, 2 Siskin, 70 + Fieldfare, 28+ Redwing, 90+ Woodpigeon.

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