Saturday, January 8, 2011

How To Stay Positive……………

and go birding again. Yes, it has been a little problematical in the last week or so after constant grey days and the wintry sameness of the birding. Then after last night’s dire weather forecast there’s always the temptation to stay in with a cup of coffee and spend a few seconds reading The Sun from back to front. But you can’t keep a good birder down, using of course “good” in its meaning of virtue rather than skilled birding excellence, as anyone who knows me would agree. So I arranged with Will to meet at our site near Lancaster, have a look around, put food out for the birds, and if the promised snow, rain and 20mph winds didn’t materialise, put up a net or two.

The site is sheltered from the wind blowing from certain directions, and after a quick look around we put up two nets, one in the “icebox” and one through the beech saplings where the Bramblings have hung about in recent weeks. The icebox is so called because it is down in the depths of the trees but wide open to the often easterly wind that gusts viciously across the railway line. But it wasn’t snowing, and there was even a little sunshine – wow!

To sum up we had a successful couple of hours catching a reasonable number of birds of valued species. We caught 18 new birds with 3 recaptures: 7 Brambling, 2 Great Tit, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Dunnock, 1 Chaffinch and 6 Blackbird. Recaptures were 1 Brambling, 1 Great Tit and 1 Blackbird. This brought the ringing group's total of Bramblings caught this winter to 59 individuals.


Brambling - juvenile male with contrasting coverts

Brambling - juvenile male

Great Tit

A recent email message from a blog reader told of almost 30 Bramblings in a Lancashire garden, all of which were males, a very unusual and surprising majority of the unfair sex. However I responded to the writer to say that in the field the differences between males and females may not be always clear cut, especially with adult winter birds where the male shows black-blue crown feathers and the female blackish crown feathers. However the difference is not always as clear cut as the two individuals below.


The 7 Blackbirds caught this morning brought the ringing group’s total of the species this year to 24 individuals. When entering ringing data on IPMR a day ago the system “bleeped” me for a Blackbird entry to say that 140grams is the maximum weight for that species; but it is interesting that so far in 2011 every single one of 24 Blackbirds has carried fat reserves, with weights varying between 111 and 141 grams, with several in the high 130s and an overall average of 123.17 grams.

Other birds seen this morning on our feeding, birding and in-between net round rounds: 2 Bullfinch, 2 Jay, 2 Nuthatch, Treecreeper and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, one of which drummed away on a hollow tree in a very positive and optimistic manner. Just like us really.

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