Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not More Bramblings?

The BBC’s promised fog and frost didn’t materialise this morning so after a couple of quick texts at 0730 I set off to meet Will near Lancaster for a short ringing session where we hoped for a Brambling or two and more winter Blackbirds.

Sunday morning roads are fairly quiet at 8am so I wasn’t entirely surprised to see a roadside Barn Owl sat on a post along Burned House Lane at Stalmine. Trouble was I was alongside before I saw the owl, and had I stopped the car to wind down the window the bird would surely have flown off. In any case although I had my camera on the passenger seat, it had the short lens attached in readiness for birds in the hand, and fiddling changing lenses by the roadside would also result in the owl flying off. So at Lane Ends I pulled in to the lay-by and changed lenses in the hope that another Barn Owl might show between there and Lancaster. Amazing luck, half a mile down the road I spotted ahead a second Barn Owl sat on yet another roadside post, as Barn Owls are inclined to do on undisturbed mornings. Yet again the light was pretty dismal, and a sunny morning would make a change, but I rattled off a shot or two at ISO800 then dashed off to meet Will for 0815.

Barn Owl

A couple of nets sufficed for the short session and we caught 16 birds, 13 new and 3 recaptures. Birds caught: 6 Blackbird, 4 Brambling, 2 Great Tit and 1 Goldcrest, plus 3 other Blackbirds the recaptures.

Our Blackbirds still carry visible fat, but perhaps a little less than recent cold weeks, with the eight birds today varying between a more normal 97 grams and somewhat overweight 121 grams.



Apologies then for yet more pictures of Bramblings, but this winter has seen the group catch more than 70 individuals, many more than we catch during the average mild UK winter. This has been a chance to get to grips with ageing and sexing birds on a regular weekly basis, with all ages and sexes in direct comparison on the same day, rather than ones and twos caught on different occasions. And let’s face it, a “Brambling Winter” may not happen again for several or more years, and they are simply stunning birds.

Brambling – juvenile male

Brambling – adult female

Note the broad and rounded tail feathers on the adult female above and below, plus the well-defined, orange edged tertial feathers, compared to the paler edged tertials of the juvenile female.

Brambling – juvenile female above, adult female below

A juvenile female has more pointed tail feathers and less well-defined edges to the tertial feathers.

Brambling – adult female

Brambling – juvenile female

Brambling – adult female left, juvenile female right

Other birds seen this morning, 2 Nuthatch, 2 Jay, 3 Bullfinch, 1 Sparrowhawk, 15 Redwing, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker.

The weather forecast for the week ahead suggests the wind may prevent us getting another crack at Bramblings or indeed much else; but as ever we’ll see.

1 comment:

Notatwitcher said...

Many thanks for posting the brambling photos. I've seen adult birds before, but got slightly confused by what turned out to be a juvenile bird this afternoon. Definitely brambling shaped but different plumage than I've seen before - thanks to your excellent photos I was able to confirm its identity after our cat jumped onto the windowsill and scared it away!

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