Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Horizons, Old Friends

There was no Rawcliffe today for Will and me; instead we decided to try our luck at the winter feeding spot at Myerscough where in the last few weeks Will did the hard preparatory work by snipping overgrown hawthorn branches adjacent to net rides, regularly dropping a little bird seed, and on his visits making sure that birds had found the free grub. The targets of our efforts are set to be Chaffinches and thrushes, with perhaps a few wary Tree Sparrows, but the latter may not oblige after the first one or two visits literally catch them out.

The site was disgustingly muddy, the track churned up by the many tractor and farm vehicle visits of autumn, but we set just a couple of nets in the half-light then waited for birds to arrive.

The farm track is less than half a mile from a long established Chaffinch roost at nearby Myerscough College. The grounds of the college are so busy with people and vehicles on a daily basis that it is not feasible to ring there, so putting feed out nearby is more effective than attempting to catch Chaffinches in a large, widespread roost. There is scope here for a couple of keen young ornithologists to count how many Chaffinches arrive at the roost in the late afternoon, from which directions, and maybe even the birds' choice of tree or shrub in which to spend the night. If only young birders were as keen on finding out about birds as they are on seeing new or “exciting” ones.

Muddy Waters

Targeting the Chaffinch proved very successful in a four hour session, with a total of 49 birds, 46 new and 3 recaptures. New birds: 36 Chaffinch, 3 Tree Sparrow, 3 Robin, 2 Blackbird, 1 Blue Tit, and 1 Dunnock. Recaptures: 1 Chaffinch, 1 Blue Tit and 1 Tree Sparrow. The Chaffinch and Blue Tit were first ringed here on 12 December 2010, with the Tree Sparrow dating from January 2009.

Our observations suggest that 100+ Chaffinches came to the feed at the hedgerow, our count probably a severe underestimate given the number arriving but not necessarily caught. Also, it’s early days yet but compared to our autumn catches of predominantly juvenile Chaffinches at Out Rawcliffe, it was quickly evident today how many of the birds handled were adults, 18 of the 37, or virtually 50%.

Mainly Chaffinch


Chaffinch – broad tail of an adult

Blue Tit

The rather enclosed nature of the site limits the bird watching somewhat, but in addition to the birds ringed we noted 2 Bullfinch, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Snipe, 1 Kestrel, 1 Tawny Owl, 7 Redwing, 6 Fieldfare.


BirderRon said...

Oh how I envy you ablebodie birders! Being a scooter user I am fairly limited in where I can go birding. The paths have to have a resonable surface so the pathway that shows in todays blog would be out for me. Ah well, I make do I as I must and I try not to be too jealous ;-)))

Kay L. Davies said...

Big discussion around here is between me, wanting to visit UK, and my husband and his dream of Venice.
I want to visit my best friend who now lives in a narrow boat at Yelvertoft, and I want to see some English birds, especially that precious little blue tit.
I'm thinking I'd rather take the QM2 across the Atlantic than a plane. Wouldn't that be nice? At least I'd see some seagulls, maybe some gannets. Too much to hope for puffins.

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

news said...

Hi Phil: Pagers & instant access to information means young birders (the majority)do not like what to them is boring patch birding they do not know what they are missing.Best wishes JWB.

Jonny Scragg said...

I wouldn't agree that most young birders prefer to see new birds rather than watching the more regular ones. Yes most of us do enjoy twitching a lot however nearly all the young birders I know across the country have their own loacl patch that they still watch and enjoy watching the local birds just as much as watching rarities. I've got my own local patch around Carleton and Bispham and I love seeing the changes that happen throughout the year, even if it just how the number of Mallards on the crematorium pond varies from month to month. I think people don't speak to us young birders enough to see how much we actually enjoy our hobby and how much knowledge we have, not just the twitching side

Phil Slade said...

Thank you for your comments everyone.

Kay – make it the UK, there aren’t many birds in Venice – just pigeons I think.

Jonathan, I am very pleased to see you are an exception to the apparent rule, and if I meet up with you when birding I am happy to compare notes.

Millhouse Photography said...

I hope Myerscough proves a sucessful winter ground for you Phil. Cracking Kestrel too.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Wow, Phil, that is really a muddy spot you all had to work about in, yet it does seem that your time was certainly made worthwhile afterall. You know the Kestrel, and yet I find them each quite lovely. Have a great week, a safe week~

Jonny Scragg said...

and if its not too late to add a bit more to this discussion, I'm sure when you were a younger birder yourself you didn't do any twitching...

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