Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Heading North

Braving yet another icy start I drove north at 0630 to meet Andy up at Oakenclough for a spot of bird ringing. 

Last week’s Brambling, Siskins and Lesser Redpolls (Brambling & Lesser Redpoll  + Siskins) together with news of Bramblings in the south-west of England encouraged us to rather hope for more of the same today. During February, March and April and together with Chaffinches all three of these species start their northward movement through England towards Scotland and more northerly outposts. Another finch on the move at this time of year is the humble and now commonplace bird of suburban gardens the Goldfinch, many of which move to more southerly locations for the winter. All of these species are our main targets for this mostly all year round ringing site.

Although we didn’t catch any Lesser Redpolls today we did catch the other species in our total of 33 birds: 14 Goldfinch, 9 Chaffinch, 4 Siskin, 2 Blue Tit, 2 Coal Tit, 1 Reed Bunting and 1 Brambling. Today’s Brambling was another adult female. 


Brambling - adult female

The four male Siskins found the net together and so were released at the same time. It was very soon after the Siskins that a passing snow shower from the north-west curtailed our activities for a while. After fifteen minutes or so the sun returned and we went on to continue catching until 1230.


The suggestion of finches heading north was reinforced by a male Chaffinch with a wing length of 93mm, a couple or more millimetres above the norm for a British Chaffinch.


The Reed Bunting is not a species we associate with this predominantly woodland site, except perhaps in small numbers in the adjoining landscape. Today’s second year female was only the second ringing record for here. It was a visitor to our winter feeding station and unlikely to be recaptured here again.

Reed Bunting

It was well past midday by the time I headed home where at Cockerham there was a distant Barn Owl circuiting a stretch of roadside fields where it followed the barbed fence. Unfortunately the owl didn’t come any closer than the pictures below. 

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

The months of January, February and March can be a dangerous time for all birds when the “hunger gap” is at its most intense. Barn Owls are especially vulnerable because their exclusively mammalian food is in very short supply. The owls have to spend many more hours searching for food. That is the reason that in recent weeks many more than is normal are being seen during daylight hours. 

The owl provided a notable ending to a very successful morning.

Please log into Another Bird Blog soon for more news, views and photos of birds.

Linking today to  Eileen's Saturdayrun-a-roundranch and Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil! What a great variety of birds and photos. I love the colors of the Siskin, Chaffinch and Goldfinch. The Barn owl is always a cool sighting. Great post. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!

Stuart Price said...

Only ever seen ONE Barn Owl in my entire life, must be great to see them as often as you seem to manage............

David Gascoigne said...

I have done a little better than Stuart with Barn Owls, but I doubt that my encounters exceed a dozen. They don't occur in southern Ontario, of course, so my only hope is to see them in other locations when I travel. I have seen them in California, Arizona, the UK and South Africa. It's a bird that I would love to have more contact with, but I am afraid that is never going to happen. Good luck with your spring banding, Phil. I hope it is really productive for you.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That is very interesting about the owls difficulties in searching for food in this month -- I wondered ab out why it was out in broad daylight. Thanks again for sharing all the colorful birds and for braving snow and ice to take them.

Mama Zen said...

Stunning shots of the owl!

Lea said...

Lovely birds!

Chris Rohrer said...

That's a great collection. Finding the Barn Owl at work is always a welcome sight. I especially love your smaller birds like the Chaffinch. Beautiful coloring on this bird. Hope you are doing well. Regards! Chris

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) Another great variety of colourful birds,.. love the Siskin picture. I also wondered why so many Barn Owls are being seen in the UK during the day. Love your fence shot of the one about to land.:)

carol l mckenna said...

Always wonderful bird photography here ~ love the barn owl one!

Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

Ida said...

Seeing the different birds up close like that was really neat. I'm curious as to why you catch them like that.
Neat spotting of the owl near the barbed wire fence. I hope it found a good meal.

June Caedmon said...

Lovely, all, but that Siskin is especially striking! Reminds me of our Lessor Goldfinches here in south TX. Fabulous capture of the owl! Always a treat to see one! Thanks.


great Owl shots

TexWisGirl said...

such gorgeous birds, and thanks for the fence shots, too!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, this is a wonderful post and gorgeous bird photos. The owl is a favorite. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

sandyland said...

chaffinch a beauty nice owl landing

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful birds. Nice variety.

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