Saturday, October 8, 2016

Goldcrests Galore

What a morning! Busy, busy, busy. 

I met Andy up at Oakenclough at 0700 hours where we set up shop and waited to catch the first Redwings of the autumn. All seemed quiet in the half light of dawn but by nine o’clock we’d ringed 50 birds without stopping for coffee or breakfast but one Redwing only to show for our hard work. 

Ringing Station

We caught steadily and finally called a halt at midday with 123 birds caught and both ringers cream-crackered after fully processing 30+ birds every hour. Whoever said that ringing birds was easy work?

It wasn’t Redwings that topped our leader board but that other autumn migrant the Goldcrest which made up 50% of our catch, plus a selection of other species bringing up the rear. 

Totals today: 61 Goldcrest, 15 Goldfinch, 14 Chaffinch, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Redwing, 2 Siskin, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Brambling and 1 Dunnock. Just two of these birds were recaptures from previous occasions, a Goldfinch and a Blue Tit. 

Late September/early October are peak times for Goldcrest migration so while we expect to see more than normal it is highly unusual to catch so many. This might suggest a very good breeding season in the conifers of the northern UK from where the Goldcrests originate. Of the 61 caught today just four were adult birds, the remainder juveniles of this year. 

The overall breeding population of Goldcrests in Europe is estimated at 20,000,000-37,000,000 pairs, which equates to 40,100,000-74,100,000 mature individuals. (Birdlife Internationl 2015). Those figures do not include post-breeding juvenile birds that swell the population many times over during the summer months. Despite their tiny size Goldcrests are highly migratory, with a large influx of birds from Scandinavia and the near-Continent arriving on the east coast of Britain every autumn. Immigrants arrive in Britain from late August through to early November, departing the following March and April. 

Early ornithologists didn’t believe a bird as tiny as a Goldcrest could fly across the North Sea unaided, and it was thought that they rode on the backs of migratory Woodcock or Short-eared Owls.


It was good to catch a Brambling today, one of the eight or more seen and heard overhead with at one point four feeding together on autumn berries above our heads. 



It was after 11 o’clock when Chiffchaffs appeared and then three on the same net round. 


We were so busy ringing today that accounting for visible migration became difficult, especially since most birds seemed to arrive out of sight from the south and west, behind the ringing station that faces north and east. Lesser Redpoll, Chaffinch and Siskin all found their way into the nets without us seeing many of them. 

Lesser Redpoll


Redwings proved more visible with at least two flocks of 40+ seen and landing briefly in the plantation before heading off in a north-westerly direction. 


Otherwise sightings – 30+ Swallows flying south. As we packed the ringing gear a calling Raven made us look high to the east and see a “kettle” of 12 circling Buzzards that caused the Raven's protest. They all drifted higher and west before disappearing into the cloud base hundreds of feet above. 

On the way home I counted 5 more Buzzards – 2 at Nateby, 2 on Pilling Moss and then 2 on Stalmine Moss. 

This is a productive time of year for birding, that’s for sure.

More news soon. In the meantime I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday and Anni's birding.


Linda said...

What sweet, beautiful little birds!

Santi Dominguez said...

Good job.Thanks,because for me this information is very usefull in order to learn english bird names.

David Gascoigne said...

What an amazing session of bird banding! I am surprised that an old timer like you could keep up with the pace. No doubt you will now have to take a week off to practice finger stretching exercises. We'll be at it again with vigour on Saturday morning, but I am sure we won't even approach your numbers. How many nets do you have in operation, by the way?

Anni said...

I'm late getting here to visit with you, it's been a most beautiful day here in South Texas I just HAD to be outdoors this morning - birding, of course. Thanks so much for sharing this post with us at I'd Rather B Birdin'!! Always appreciated. Have a great week ahead.

My goodness...that's a LOT OF birds to ring/band. Lots of work, but even tho maybe tiring work, just think of what you two accomplished!! I was rather interested in the tale of the tiny bird hitchhiking a ride across the North Sea.

Great photos of course, but I DO SO ENJOY reading your adventures in birding.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) All such sweet captures,...but I especially love that little Brambling.

Photo Cache said...

These birds are so beautiful.

Worth a Thousand Words

Poetic Shutterbug said...

How sweet are these little ones? I have never seen the chiffchaff and it is just adorable. Great photos and descriptions. Thank you

Fun60 said...

I learn so much from your posts. Your excellent photos of named birds will hopefully educate me eventually.

carol l mckenna said...

wonderful post and bird photography ~ fun for you and us! Love the 'Brambling' shot! thanks ^_^

Wishing you a special week ~ ^_^

Lowcarb team member said...

Some great looking birds here Phil - the Brambling is my favourite.

Hope your week has started well

All the best Jan

likeschocolate said...

I am impressed! Beautiful!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A fine day indeed....I no wonder you were exhausted though. It's kind of fun to think about the gold rest riding across the sea on the back of an owl....sort of sorry it isn't true :))). It actually sounds like something from a child's fairy tale.... about the place where my scientific knowledge seems to have stalled!

Ars Natura said...

Espero que cuidéis bien de esos goldcrest y que vuelvan felices en primavera a escandinavia. Saludos desde Suecia.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I'm not familiar with any of these little birds; they're all quite beautiful. I always learn something when I visit you.

Prunella Pepperpot said...

What wonderful little birds and great to see them up close. Thank you for sharing.
Have a wonderful week :)

Janice Trinh said...

Those are beautiful birds! I think the brambling is my favorite of this group. And how on earth did you get them to perch on your hand? How wonderful!

Findlay Wilde said...

That is a massive count of Goldcrest. Goldcrest numbers have gone up a bit for us, but our main catch over the weekend was Redwing (and 4 Yellow Browed Warblers - blog to come on that soon).

bettyl-NZ said...

They are each quite lovely little birds! How fortunate that you have such a great opportunity to be that close.

sandyland said...


Powell River Books said...

We love watching birds from our cabin. This time of year we can see a few, but most have moved on to warmer climates. We have a section of our big lake that really gets nasty in storms. We call it the North Sea and it lies between our cabin home and town. We think twice about crossing when the waves get big. - Margy

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