Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and after a slow ringing session this morning I knew that after my 2 weeks holiday followed by just a week of dropping food at the feeding station, it would have been better to leave the ringing for a few more days to let birds find the food again.
Just 7 birds caught - 2 Chaffinch, 2 Blackbird, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Coal Tit and 1 Redwing.
Finding a smart looking adult Redwing in a net came as a nice surprise, although a small movement of c 30 Fieldfares heading north-west throughout the morning hinted at thrushes on the move.
The Goldfinches weren’t interested in the nyger feeders today with about 30 of them sticking to feeding on the ground in a nearby meadow; goodness knows what seeds they find to eat in February. There were 20+ Reed Buntings around today, none finding their way to the nets. Chaffinches were pretty thin on the ground today, the large flock of recent months now having dispersed, with just 20 or so birds around and at least one Brambling, possibly four together overhead and flying north-west.
If the ringing was quiet, the birding was much better and something of a raptor morning with 6 Buzzards (3 pairs), 3 Kestrel, a juvenile Peregrine, a pair of Sparrowhawks and of course a Little Owl. Other birds seen: 8 Corn Bunting, 40+ Tree Sparrow, 2 Yellowhammer, 600 Woodpigeon, 1 Woodcock.
I saw the Sparrowhawks from a good distance away as they sat just feet apart, sunning themselves in a clump of bare willows, the bright breast of the male in particular drawing attention to them. As my car drew up the female turned and disappeared into the trees behind, the male continuing to sit on the exposed branch. It was a good distance away and the picture is heavily cropped and taken through a tiny gap in the vegetation: fortunately the bright sunshine allowed the crop. From the orangey eye colour it looks to be a fully adult male and the birds are in the same location they bred last year. Fingers crossed for a better year than the one youngster reared last season.
Birds were singing too - Skylark, Mistle Thrush, Reed Bunting and Great-spotted Woodpecker. The winter sunshine brought out the Brown Hares today with some running about the fields but no actual “boxing” yet.
Log in again soon for more news and views from Another Bird Blog. This week the blog is linking to Stewart's Photo Gallery and to Anni who would rather be birding most any time, and also to Weekly Top Shot .