Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where Did All The Bramblings Go?

It was the question that Will and I asked each other this morning after a ringing session in Will’s Garstang garden again. It was our first attempt to catch Bramblings there since December 15th when we caught 28 of them and estimated their number as over 200. In between we had two weeks of snow and ice that put paid to our eagerness to have another bash.

Although the ringing proved fairly quiet this morning, finches dominated the catch of 35 birds, 25 new birds and 10 recaptures. New birds: 11 Chaffinch, 4 Greenfinch, 2 Brambling - both females, 2 Blackbird, 3 Coal Tit, 2 Blue Tit and 1 Great Tit. Recaptures were 3 Great Tit, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Coal Tit and 1 Song Thrush.

Brambling 1

Brambling 2


In contrast to our pretty average catch, there were quite a lot of finches around the area of the garden and the adjacent farmland this morning. We think that the mild weather of the last couple of days allowed birds to move out of the garden a little and become less dependent upon Will’s seed hand-outs. Our finch counts came to 25 Brambling, 120 Chaffinch, 15 Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinch and 18 Siskin. I changed the blog header yesterday in anticipation of the “Siskin season”, which runs from about now and into the new year until March, a time when their natural food depletes, birds begin to head back north and during when they rediscover garden nyjer seed. Whilst we didn’t catch any, they were both audible and visible around the trees and on a couple of the seed feeders.


We caught a couple of thrushes today both retaining fat levels found during the cold spell, a Blackbird that weighed 128 grams and a Song Thrush tipping the scale at 100 grams – impressive fat deposition.

With the benefit of hindsight we now realise that the hundreds of Bramblings of two weeks ago were a temporary local phenomenon, just part of the mass movement of Bramblings noticed in many parts of the UK about that time. It’s also obvious that a number of Bramblings are still in the UK and also in our local area, but I hazard a guess that our Brambling catches in 2011 will remain much as today. We’ll see tomorrow when we try another site near Lancaster.

Other birds seen today included 1 Grey Wagtail, several Redwings, 1 Kestrel plus the usual savvy House Sparrows that avoided our nets.

The Bramblings may come and go but there’s one thing that’s a reliable fixture, and that’s the sustenance for hungry ringers provided by Sue.

Another Bacon Butty

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