Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

From inside the house the coating on the car looked like frost. Once outside there was a light flurry of snow together with a thin film of the white stuff on the roof and bonnet. Although dawn was half an hour way there were breaks in the cloud above so I set off in an easterly direction hoping for a repeat run of Friday’s catch at my finch feed site on the moss.

At the farm the snow had stopped so I set a couple of nets,and after a couple of hours the field sheet showed a good selection of species and a reasonable total of 18 birds, including a few more of the carrot coloured Fringilla montifringilla: New - 5 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 3 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting and 1 Woodpigeon. Recaptures - 3 Chaffinch and 1 Brambling, all from recent days. 

In contrast to Friday the Bramblings were much less obvious this morning with probably less than 10 seen or heard, with Chaffinches equally hard to detect and maybe less than 20 about. Reed Buntings continue to come and go with the three new birds caught but a constant 20 or so utilising the woodland edge of the ringing site.

Goldfinches seemed to return to the niger feeders today so here's hoping their numbers will increase soon when birds head back in a northerly direction from the south of England and the near Continent. With more than 20 around catching three is still an improvement on recent tallies. Below is an adult male Goldfinch caught today displaying a stunning spring plumage and having a wing length of 85mm, the longest I’ve ever encountered on any Goldfinch.


Goldfinch - adult male

I caught a very heavy adult Woodpigeon, looking innocent enough but a species also known hereabouts as the Greater Seed Hoovering Dove. When I released the monster it laboured off, weighted down with best quality bird seed. 


A picture of this morning’s adult male Brambling followed by a portrait of one of the second calendar year females caught today.Why do the males attract lots of attention from birders when the females are equally attractive but in a much less obvious way?

Brambling -  Fringilla montifringilla

Brambling - Fringilla montifringilla

The morning’s birding was pretty quiet too although a female Merlin chasing Skylarks enlivened a few moments before the falcon sped off towards Pilling. It made me look over that way to see other birds scattering too in the wake of or anticipation of the Merlin's arrival - mainly 110 Fieldfare, 200 Starling in the next field, but in the still wet field beyond, 12 Golden Plover, 10 Black-tailed Godwit and 150+ Lapwing. 

Earlier I’d seen the Hen Harrier over that way too, heading north and west towards Skitham Lane and Bradshaw Lane. There was no chance of yet another bad photo by me, especially at that distance, so here’s a sample plate of several Hen Harriers/Northern Harriers from a soon to be released book The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors.  JPEG courtesy of Jessica and Caroline at Princeton University Press.

Northern Harrier/Hen Harrier - The Crossley ID Guide:Raptors

And watch this space in the next few weeks when Another Bird Blog takes a deeper look at The Crossley Guide:Raptors in time for the April launch .

Log into Another Bird Blog soon for more news, views and a fruitful journey.  


HansHB said...

Awesome post!

Wally Jones said...

Stunning photos of the Goldfinch! I don't know why more attention is paid to the male Brambling. But I'm the sort who thinks the American female Red-winged Blackbird has just as much beauty as the male. Just in a different way.
Not another bird book! I can't afford any more!

Choy Wai Mun said...

The "seed robber" is quite adorable actually. Interesting write-up and good images as usual.

Vores have said...

WAU - where a great image series showing some beautiful birds :) Hanne Bente

Anonymous said...

Stunning captures and catches here Phil. I adore the Goldfinches vivid colors and heft of seed hogger.
Happy day to you ~:)

eileeninmd said...

Phil, you caught some gorgeous birds. The Goldfinches is just beautiful and I also love the Brambling. Great post and the photos are awesome. Happy Birding!

Shey said...

Oh gorgeous photos again. Love the vibrant colors of the goldfinch

Gary Jones said...

Super photos Phil, that's a great Kingfisher shot as your header

Russell Jenkins said...

All are beautiful portraits of striking subjects, Phil. They are all pictures in the finest health. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the raptor guide too. Bit of a collector, I am.

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