Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fieldfares And A Feisty Sprawk

Everything was right for a fruitful ringing session. I met Andy at 0645 in the half-light. The air felt almost balmy as a breeze from the south fanned the trees, but just a little too much for our liking. We set the mist nets knowing the preceding week saw mostly poor weather with very few thrushes on the move. Surely Redwings and Fieldfares would be involved in visible migration this morning? We gulped half a cup of coffee each and then waited. 

 The Ringing Office

We didn’t wait too long before the thrushes began to arrive from the north. They came in tens, twenties and hundreds strong throughout the morning until by by1145 we’d counted approximately 2200 Fieldfares and almost 400 Redwings. Some of the flocks were mixed but always dominated by Fieldfares while the bigger flocks of several hundred proved to be exclusively Fieldfares. 

Perhaps because of the steady 10-15 mph breeze a number of flocks arrived from a low elevation and often appeared without warning as they flew above nearby trees to then pass over us. The movement of all birds this morning was 100% north to south. 

The less than ideal wind speed almost certainly limited our overall catch but we were happy with the morning’s total of birds caught and the species: 4 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 4 Goldfinch, 3 Coal Tit, 2 Blue Tit and one each of Sparrowhawk, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Great Tit and Goldcrest. 




The Sparrowhawk proved to be a large and feisty handful of an adult female. The orange eye told us she was an older female. Sparrowhawks are short-lived compared to other birds of prey. The average lifespan for a Sparrowhawk is 2.7 years and although very few live longer than seven years the oldest known ringed bird was one 17 years of age. A female Sparrowhawk takes a larger ring size than the much smaller male of the species and the talons of the female need to be avoided when handling one. 

Sparrowhawk - adult female

Sparrowhawk - adult female

Apart from the thrushes there was a steady movement of finches this morning involving mainly Chaffinch and Greenfinch with a couple of Bramblings and Lesser Redpolls noted. 

Otherwise, 3 Whooper Swans flying west.

More news soon from Another Bird Blog. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, linking to Anni's Blog.


Margaret Adamson said...

WOW Phil SO many birds migrating. I wonder what all that means for our weather this year. Lovely shots of the Ssparrohawk. I never knew thatwa a Chelsae sweater as i am NOt into football at all but glad you liked the post. Have a lovely weekend.

David Gascoigne said...

Great morning, Phil. I would have really enjoyed seeing the thrush migration. Numbers like that are impressive. I think you earned the second half cup of coffee.

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, it is cool seeing these ringed birds up close. Awesome shots of the Sparrowhawk. Happy birding!

Linda said...

Just beautiful, Phil! I really don't get to see birds up close like this except for the odd pigeons, seagulls, ducks and geese.

Tony McGurk said...

The colour of the eyes in the closeup of the Sparrowhawk is stunning & so bright.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Fabulous photos of the sparrowhawk. She's a beauty.

Anni said...

Extraordinary!!! I always love coming here to read what you have done with your ringing days. Gorgeous birds. And to think....a sparrow hawk living to be 17 years old when the average is only 2.7. Wow. Incredible.

Breathtaking said...

Hello!:) I love seeing all the birds up close on your blog.Fabulous shots of the Fairfield and Redstart, which to me look very similar in appearance, at least they have certain similarities, which not being a birder, I would find very difficult to distinguish at a distance. The Sparrow halk image is stunning. I saw one for the first time this year, but would never get an opportunity to see one as close as this but for blogs like yours, so thank you Phil.:)

Findlay Wilde said...

We've only had Redwing so far in the nets. Seen lots of Fieldfares, but not ringed any yet this season.

Marie C said...

Gorgeous birds, especially that awesome sparrowhawk!

Andrew Fulton said...

Wonderful images Phil...

carol l mckenna said...

All excellent photography ~ favorite is the closeup of the beautiful Sparrowhawk!

Happy Week to you,
artmusedog and carol

mick said...

That Sparrowhawk is a magnificent looking bird and her talons look to be very effective weapons! Great photos of all the birds.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Interesting seeing your 'office'. Of course I knew you had to do paperwork but never thought about how you'd have to have it all easily accessible. I'm sure you've already told this, but how do you decide how many birds to ring when you get so many of one species?

The Sparrowhawk Is a handsome raptor... Too bad for his short lifespan.

Neesie said...

This is the first time visiting your blog Phil but it's been delightful.
I'm a big wildlife, bird and nature fan and found all of your info fascinating.
I spend a fortune on feeding my wild birds and have been delighted in how many birds and variety I've attracted into my garden.
That sparrowhawk's eye is amazing. Great photo ;D

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