Thursday, October 6, 2016

It's All About Linnets

At this time of year the start times for a ringing session aren’t too early so I arranged to meet Andy at 0700 at Cockerham. That would give us plenty of time to erect a couple of single panel nets in the plot of set-aside crops and wait for Linnets to arrive from their overnight roosts. The weather forecast gave us a couple of hours at 10mph or less easterlies in which to catch before we might get blown off course. 

Arrive the Linnets did by flying in from all directions north, south, east and west, in ones, twos and threes at first until the small groups built into larger clusters and small flocks of up to seventy birds. We estimated that in all we saw 150-200 Linnets throughout the morning, but the number of birds caught might suggest more than two hundred in the area.  

About 1030 the wind began to increase as promised and we called it a day, more than satisfied with the catch. We caught 36 birds - 33 Linnet, 2 Tree Sparrow and 1 Reed Bunting. 

Tree Sparrow


Reed Bunting


Although it is early days in working this site we both remarked on the number of juvenile/first year males around. The Linnet catch comprised of 19 first year males, 12 juvenile/first year females and just 2 adults, both of them males. Hopefully a bigger sample over the coming weeks will allow us to look more closely at the age/sex ratios of birds using this feeding site. 

Early ornithologists thought there to be two species of Linnet, one of which they called Linota, probably from its habit of feeding on flax-seed (Linum) from which linen is made. The other Linnet they named Cannabina from the bird having been seen to feed on hemp-seed - cannabis. There is now one species of Linnet recognised by science, the Common Linnet which has the Latin/scientific name of Linaria cannabina where Linaria refers to various plants belonging to the genus Linaria the figwort family and of which Linum is one.

We park at a roadside that is also a parking spot for wildfowlers heading out onto Pilling Marsh. The wildfowlers walk out to their spots in the dark long before we set up shop, but on the shooters return about 10am return we learnt about some of their sightings. They had recorded huge numbers of Pink-footed Goose, very good numbers of Wigeon and Pintail but had also seen a Marsh Harrier and a Great White Egret. 

The Great White Egret is something of a rarity in this area but just yesterday there was a confirmed sighting of seven Great White Egrets roosting with the long-established Little Egret roost at Leighton Moss, some 25 or so miles directly across Morecambe Bay. Two days ago nine were seen near Southport to the south and across the River Ribble. There seems little doubt that these mulitple sighting refer to some and all of the birds .

Great White Egret

In addition to our catch our own sightings while ringing included 7 Snipe, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Little Egret, and as per the wildfowlers, many thousands of Pink-footed Geese. 

Little Egret

There’s more bird news and more pictures in the next day or two. Don’t miss out and log in to Another Bird Blog very soon.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday.


David Gascoigne said...

I remember coming to Britain about twenty years ago and Little Egret was still considered a rarity. Now it is everywhere and I suspect that Great Egret may be about to become as common. Ironically that has happened in Ontario where Great Egret is breeding in several locations. It is certainly not uncommon any more. Always a great sighting though.

Santi Dominguez said...

Great Egret is amazing bird.Every days I can watch a Great Egret here in Tormes river.Allways she is alone. Thanks for your explanation about it.

Linda said...

Phil, I love all the birds in your photos! Thank you so much for sharing, your posts bring me such joy. :)

Margaret Adamson said...

Don see many Tree Sparrows so that was lovely to see as was all your shots especially the Great Egret

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Beautiful birds.. Regards..

Lowcarb team member said...

I know it perhaps shouldn't ... but it never ceases to amaze me the wonderful colours in the plummage/feathers, your close up photo's capture it perfectly.

Hope you have a good weekend

All the best Jan

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, awesome photos and a lovely variety of birds. The Tree Sparrow is just beautiful. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

sandyland said...

I'm learning the nuances and differences

TexWisGirl said...

love your pretty brown birds. :)

Powell River Books said...

Our summer birds are gone, but the Song Sparrow has returned. We had one stay with us all last winter. It must roost in the area underneath our float cabin because it flies out quite often when I walk across the deck. - Margy

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