Friday, March 25, 2011

It’s The Unexpected

Another dawn, another morning’s ringing with Will at the farm site at Out Rawcliffe. It was also another misty, murky and slow start but as so often happens with birding, ringing or taking photographs, a couple of unforeseen or unanticipated birds turn a regular event into something a little more interesting, exciting and involving than the norm.

After the 6am start our total at 0830 was a dozen birds only, whereupon we hoped that with luck we might manage twenty by packing up time. But just like two days ago, as the sun rose and burnt off the haze, so birds arrived in more numbers with better variety.

By midday our total improved to 39 birds, 35 new and 4 recaptures, enlivened by a couple of surprises in the net. New birds: 13 Meadow Pipit, 11 Lesser Redpoll, 5 Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Wren, 1 female Yellowhammer, 1 Chiffchaff the first of the year, and 1 Kestrel. Recaptures; 2 Goldfinch, 1 Chaffinch and 1 male Yellowhammer, previously ringed on the farm on 23 October 2010. The Yellowhammers turned up in the net side by side.




There were more Meadow Pipits around this morning, both moving North and West, but also grounded in the farm fields, approximately 150 in total. Likewise Lesser Redpoll, with a minimum of 50 birds over between the first one at 0615 and the last at midday.

Lesser Redpoll

Other birds seen this morning: 3 Raven croaking together overhead, 13 Fieldfare heading west, a single Golden Plover heading west, 4 Siskin overhead and 4 Buzzard.

The lightning fast Kestrel drew blood from unwary fingers.



We watched a Chiffchaff arrive from the south east whereupon it found the net almost immediately. The bird showed signs of nectar feeding from wherever it had been in recent days.

Chiffchaff - signs of nectar at the base of the bill


We looked hard at the Meadow Pipits today, and whilst we found most were second calendar year (2CY)/juveniles, two at least were definitely adults. The adults still showed the uniform olive median and greater coverts typical of an autumn bird, whilst the 2CYs have contrast between last year’s pale median coverts with centre “teeth” that contrast with new adult type olive feathers gained from a partial moult.

Meadow Pipit - adult

Meadow Pipit - 2CY

I almost forgot to mention the Little Owls at dawn, posing in the half-light but not wanting to face me together. Like I said, it’s the unexpected!

Little Owl

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